Magazine article Public Finance

Together Forever?

Magazine article Public Finance

Together Forever?

Article excerpt

Given that six ministers were present at the launch, the government must have been disappointed with the lukewarm response given to its Together We Can initiative.

Perhaps this was something to do with the lack of anything new in the plan. It told a familiar tale - government and citizens working together to improve local services, with ministers advocating a shift in power from Whitehall to communities.

Yet, on the eve of the Local Government Association annual conference in Harrogate, we might have expected something with a little more substance.

The best on offer from communities minister David Miliband was a vague call for a new social contract' between government and citizens. But perhaps a contract between Whitehall and the bodies that run most local services would be more likely to achieve something.

Local authorities did not find themselves overly featured in the Together We Can report. As ever, there was an assumption that Whitehall will devolve powers but not to the established, democratically elected local bodies.

Aware of these concerns, local government minister Phil Woolas denied that councils were being bypassed. He later spoiled the effect by criticising councillors who should be 'representing their community to the council, not just representing the council to their community'. …

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