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David_Parsons_profile Cllr David Parsons, the Conservative leader of Leicestershire County Council, says the LGA needs to change

This  morning, I will be announcing that I am running to be chairman of the Local  Government Association.

As  Conservatives, I suspect the instinct of many of you will be suspicion about why we need an organisation that sprang to life under the last Government. After all, the coalition Government has been busily scything its way through the quangocracy, so why spare the LGA? Why does it matter?

It  matters because the country¹s councils deserve a platform that showcases the best of what they do, and provides the tools and advice for others to get better. As you may know, I lead for the LGA on improvement, and that work has involved coming up with practical ways to share expertise, promote efficiency and do more for less. It has led the charge in urging the Government to abandon the thousands of tick box measures previously imposed on local government to measure efficiency.

However, all too often, LGA members ­those who pay the membership fees  ­are made to feel like spectators watching an unedifying spat between central Government and the local authority world. When it is not trading ineffectual blows with the DCLG, the LGA is often cornered into performing its other role, as a professional apologist when councils get it wrong.  We need to do more to convince councils that  membership of the LGA is an investment that yields local  dividends.

I  have spent recent months crossing the country and talking to council leaders. They know why they have to make the big cuts  and take the hard decisions. The LGA should be leading the way in targeting  the waste, duplication and top heavy management structures that can produce  real savings while protecting services.

You know as I do that the  Conservative instinct in adversity is to get on with the job. Many councils  have shown imagination and innovation in taking on the Big Society ideal, and  it¹s just this kind of response that should be championed by the LGA.

In  brief, here¹s my vision for the Local Government Association. First, cut subscription fees and reduce the headcount to create a lean organisation that focuses on practical help for members. Second, devolve more of the organisation out of London ­. Yes, we need a  base in London, but the LGA has become too  metro-centric. Third, showcase the best of what councils do, and show others  how to get better.

I also  want to halt the recruitment of the next LGA chief.  My view is it¹s time to move away from  the traditional public sector chief executive model and hire an  entrepreneurial and inspiring figure from the private sector. Richard Branson  to restyle local Government? Why not?

The  role of the LGA is to be neither supine to the Government or pick fights with  it. A mature relationship involves accepting that a lot of what Eric Pickles  has said is correct, but also demonstrating that talented people in councils  can deliver solutions when left alone to do so. An LGA that champions value  for money, innovation and individual initiative? They all sound classic Conservative virtues to me.

18 comments for: Why I’m standing for Chairman of the LGA

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