‘Bad politics’ slow decentralisation

Political squabbling among councillors is often the biggest barrier
to improving local public services, the conference was told.

Charlie Leadbetter, a member of the Demos think tank and an adviser
to the government, said the increasing vogue among national
political parties for decentralisation would only work if
councillors could set aside their political differences and work
together to improve services.

“You have got to avoid bad politics and sectarianism. We audit
everything else but not politics. Why isn’t it open to that level
of scrutiny?”

The new chief executive of Walsall Council, Annie Shepperd, said
that cross-party co-operation would be essential in her efforts to
turn around the council which had been slated by the Audit
Commission as one of the worst in the country.

“There has been a promise by all of the political leaders to put
the people of Walsall first. I predict we will be one of the first
councils to move out of the CPA poor rating.”

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