The senior lawyer for the Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for central government to dismantle the barriers between local authority lawyers and their counterparts in other local public bodies.
John Reece, the LGA’s director of central services, argues that local authority legal teams are prevented from easy cross-working and collaboration, adding that the LGA is asking for the Government to ensure that hospitals, care homes and other tax-funded institutions operate under the same legal framework.
Reece said: “The Government sets targets centrally, but it is realising that things can only be delivered by a large number of agencies at a fairly local level. It’s just like with the health service: the Government can say it will do this or do that, but ultimately changes are delivered by the staff and the hospitals themselves.
“The big question is whether we need a more powerful legal framework within which local authorities could operate. A local authority is the only body directly elected at a local level and should be the only authority allowed to champion an area’s services.”
The LGA, which is chaired by Kent County Council’s former head of legal services Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, argues that central government is stifling local government with excessive target-setting and micro-management. It is calling on the Government to deliver the ‘double devolution’ of power to local authorities and to local state service providers.
The Government’s white paper on the issue is expected in November.