District councils must lead growth, think tank says
District councils must be at the forefront of the economic recovery, a local government think tank is set to urge.
In a report to be published later this week, the New Local Government Network (NLGN) will make the case that district and borough councils need to act as prime movers in encouraging local growth – and ignore Coalition growth guru Lord Heseltine’s calls for their abolition
The report, which is supported by the District Councils’ Network (DCN) highlights how local authorities can work with developers, business leaders and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to attract investment to their areas.
It claims district councils can take a lead on City Deal bids, new housing and unlocking retail and business developments.
A survey of district chief executives carried out for the report found the majority are confident about their authorities to deliver short and medium term priorities.
The main short-term priorities are budget, finance and savings (27%), economy and growth (17%) and service transformation (11%).
More than half (58%) said the New Homes Bonus is the incentive scheme most likely to have a positive impact on their finance and growth strategies.
‘Far from retreating in the face of cuts, many district councils have chosen to lead the way in driving growth, reshaping their organisations and sharing management teams,’ said NLGN director, Simon Parker. ‘This is a time of profound change in the shires, but this report suggests that confident districts have their best days ahead of them.’
The DCN’s lead member for new ways of working, Cllr Tony Jackson, said: ‘DCN welcomes the report. It marks the beginning of the debate among districts and the type of councils they want to be in the future.
‘It is important now that we support districts to recognise the paths they can take and work with them to achieve their visions for the future.’
The government could make it easy for councils to build houses (or contract builders to do it) which would do more for growth than all the talk we witness above.Patrick Newman, ex local government, Stevenage, Added: Monday, 11 March 2013 01:01 PM
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