A little earlier I posted a piece by shadow local government minister Bob Neill reporting back from the Conservative Councillors’ Association annual conference, which has been taking place over the last couple of days.
In his address to the conference today, party chairman Eric Pickles urged all present to "get in touch with their inner Tory".
With the present Government only expected to remain in power for at most a further 14 months, he said it was time for councils to break free from the shackles of delivering Labour’s agenda, and push ahead with distinctive Conservative solutions to deliver the change the country so badly needs.
"The change we need to bring will be so much easier to achieve if our Conservative councils began to urgently implement our agenda," he said.
Mr Pickles said that this Conservative agenda should be focused on:
- Neighbourhood accountability;
- Helping families and businesses through the recession;
- Bringing decision making closer to people; and
- Tackling our broken society.
He also asked councillors to question whether they really needed a Chief Executive, stating that while all organisations needed someone to give them strategic direction, they could be so much more effective if they shared experiences and expertise. He urged councils to look at sharing their highest paid officers, and that this should go beyond councils to organisations such as Primary Care Trusts.
He also lamented the fact that the exorbitant salaries being offered by some councils now mean that smaller authorities are either being priced out of the market or being forced to pay up.