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ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES
30 January 1998
LGA REGIONAL RELATIONSHIPS - RESPONSE TO LGA CONSULTATION
Draft Paper from the Policy Officer
That a response be drafted in the light of discussion.
Regional relationships are extremely important to the LGA in order to ensure adequate contact with and involvement of member authorities. In our area the electoral college is acknowledged to be unsatisfactory. The LGA now wants to develop its relationships with the regions, taking account of the Government proposals in the White Paper on the regions: "Building Partnerships for Prosperity". The LGA proposals are set out in the annex. The response needs to cover ten issues highlighted in this report.
Issue 1 - Should electoral college boundaries be based on the GOSE?
1. The Government Office for the South East (GOSE) incorporates two of the sub-regions within the South East:
(a) South of London (Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex, Hampshire and Isle of Wight) population 5.8 million covered by 54 local authorities (County Councils, District Councils and Unitary Councils).
(b) Thames Valley (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire including Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire) population 2.05 million and 18 authorities.
Currently (a) is split into two electoral colleges which are acknowledged to be totally artificial, placing Hampshire and the Isle of Wight together with West Sussex.
This Association has been pressing for a confederation of authorities in the South of London sub-region and it would be consistent now to seek to achieve one electoral college for this area. Its population would be considerably larger than other electoral colleges. One electoral college for the whole of the GOSE region - covering 72 councils - would be too large (the LGA is going to provide some comparative data), too unwieldy, and if created would prove difficult to operate in a manner which achieved an appropriate balance of regional representation.
Issue 2 - consultation on corporate policy issues
2. The LGA paper proposes that two or three members or officers from each region might attend briefings at the LGA. In our case this number is needed for this Association. Two or three could not adequately feed back on corporate policy issues to all the authorities across either the whole GOSE region or even the South of London sub-region. LGA consultation on policy issues should focus on the local associations (there are five such associations in the GOSE region, of which HIOW is one). The LGA held a very good briefing on Regional Development Agencies, attended by representatives from across the whole of England. Three officers from this Association were able to provide effective feedback. This model would be adequate for the future. Regional groupings such as SERF act in part in this role and our response should also endorse SERF involvement in these briefings.
Issue 3 - consultation on service committee issues
3. We have welcomed the proposal of the LGA Economic Regeneration Committee to meet in and consult with the South of London Sub Region. It would be practical and appropriate for LGA Committees to consult this sub-region as a general rule. For service committees to consult at a more local level would be impractical.
Issue 4 - feedback from members of national LGA committees
4. Councillor Roger Price initiated the feedback process at the last meeting of the Association. Feedback from members should focus on the local associations. Councillor Price ensured that his report was seen by West Sussex authorities because of their current inclusion in the local electoral college. This is an excellent model indicating we could support the LGA approach.
Issue 5 - representations from Member Authorities on particular issues
5. It is a good idea to deter individual authorities from pursuing particular issues through the LGA without backing from other authorities. The local associations, rather than the regional confederation, would provide an appropriate "filter" and test-bed for proposed campaigns. For example HIOW is already pursuing particular issues such as the planning framework for affordable housing.
Issue 6 - would regional groupings be willing to undertake national policy work on behalf of the LGA?
6. This sub-region is not yet sufficiently developed to take on national policy work. Indeed Members may feel that national policy should not be developed in particular regions, but by Ďad hocí sub-groups of LGA committees drawing in members and officers from authorities not closely or currently involved in the LGA national committees. Regional and sub-regional policy does though need to be developed; SERF and this Association provide appropriate bodies to undertake this work. Basic principles of subsidiarity should apply; for example in developing policy on Channel ports, SERF could act as lead for the LGA in association with other regional groupings.
Issue 7 - other improved communications
7. Do members have suggestions for other improvements in communication between the LGA and individual authorities?
Issue 8 - regional contacts
8. The South of London sub-region is much too large to contemplate a single regional contact, let alone the whole of the GOSE region. Contact should be maintained through the local associations such as HIOW (there are five in our sub-region).
Issue 9 - formal approach
9. This Association has been pressing for an effective confederation of South of London authorities. Formal recognition would strengthen a confederation once all constituent authorities are signed up to it.
Issue 10 - Reports to Policy and Strategy Committee
10. It would help to consolidate the South of London sub-region if we were regularly to report on developments in the sub-region. Such reports would be helpful to SERF and the LGA. There is no need to vary the LGA constitution.
|Author:||Nick Goulder, Policy Manager|
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