Law Society welcomes Labour's CCT vow

Helen Sage reports

Local government lawyers have breathed a sigh of relief over the Labour party's promise to abolish compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) but say the replacement Best Value scheme will still be a severe test for any legal department.

Speaking after the launch of the Labour Party's Road to the Manifesto campaign earlier this month, Peter Urwin, chair of the Law Society's Local Government Group, said law-yers would be glad to be relieved of the shackles of the compulsory process.

But he added that the new scheme would continue to scrutinise costings and productivity in order to provide a public safeguard for the effectiveness of services.

The Best Value scheme, first proposed by the Association of District Councils, has been adopted by Labour as a way of abolishing the compulsory nature of competition and the rigid set of regulations and timescales that go with it.

Under the new plan auditors will be responsible for ensuring councils are running efficiently and delivering their services properly. Urwin said: "Departments will not be able to rest on their laurels but they will no longer be bothered by the bureaucracy that CCT involves."

Other proposals put forward by the Labour Party for local government include annual elections and powers for the Audit Commission to revamp inefficient services.