The Local Government Chronicle has a report of a speech the Shadow Local Government Minister Bob Neill gave at a New local Government Network fringe meeting at the Conservative spring forum. He said a Conservative Government won't force reorganisation on local government but would "encourage" councils to be more efficient by sharing services.
"In many counties, is there logic in having five, six, seven or eight sets of planning departments and specialist officers?" he asked. "Can you band those together? I'm not going to compel you to do that but common sense is that you ought to be looking at it.
"The governance must remain local, but the actual delivery, the nuts and bolts and technicalities, can be done in all sorts of much more businesslike ways to get critical mass," he continued.
"You are best placed to judge those, but we will certainly be doing all we can to encourage that."
Liam Scott-Smith of the New Local Government Network writes:
“Following on from the excellent speech made by Bob Neill at the NLGN fringe at Spring Forum I’d also like to make people aware of something that Cllr David Parsons (leader of Leicestershire CC) said in his speech. Cllr Parsons made the point of saying that Conservative councils across the country are already engaged in finding many of the efficiency savings that Whitehall will need to find in the coming years. I completely agree with Cllr Parsons that any future Conservative government should take a close look at the excellent work that Conservative councils are doing and take those examples with them into central government.
"The argument that you can not improve services whilst making savings has been blown away by the example of councils like Hammersmith & Fulham who have been able to cut costs and improve services. It is imperative that a potential future Conservative administration build on the work done by their councils and champion them as examples of how they will makes the savings that will be needed and deliver the services that people deserve.”