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Surrey Is Not Alone In Reconsidering LGA Membership

Published on: 3 Apr, 2017
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2017

Surrey County Council is not the only local authority to be considering leaving the Local Government Association (LGA).

Last week week the leader of the Lib Dems at Kingston said she was “appalled” at the decision by council leader David Hodge to give 12 months notice to the association but according to the Municipal Journal or MJ the LGA is:  “…facing a battle to placate its county membership amid snowballing threats to quit”.

The MJ reports that three county councils – Essex, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire – are currently leading wider-ranging county threats to quit the LGA because they feel the interests of top-tier authorities have been overlooked in favour of districts.

And a fourth county, neighbouring West Sussex County Council, has already put the LGA on notice to leave from April 2018 while other councils have until the end of next week to follow suit.

One senior local government source told The MJ: ‘This is an existential crisis for the LGA.

“It’s not about funding. It is a much wider issue of the political direction it is going in, including the LGA’s unquestioning support for mayors and combined authorities.

“Counties make up a third of the membership of the LGA and feel like they are being ignored.’

LGA chair, Lord Porter, told The MJ he is due to meet with county leaders next week to address their concerns. He said recent events – such as the £2bn extra government cash for social care –showed the LGA was lobbying hard on behalf of counties, as well as districts and cities.

“My job as chairman is to balance all interests within the LGA. Some of this will be about perception, but some of it may be real. It will be disappointing if any councils go on notice [to leave].’

A LGA spokesman said the association would not provide a running commentary on its membership but played down fears of widespread departures, adding: ‘A lot could change between now and next year.’

Cllr Keith Witham

Keith Witham, Conservative county councillor for Worplesdon commented: “Whether Surrey County Council should stay as a member of the Local Government Association will be a matter for the newly elected council to decide, and will take some in depth discussions. I don’t want to give an “on the hoof” reply, trying to second guess all the pros and cons. SCC will have 12 months to consider this.

“The notice of intention to leave has been given, because 12 months notice has to be given, so if the new council decides to withdraw it will be able to save the subscription fees from 2018.

“But as several other county councils have also given such notice (Leicestershire, Essex and Lincolnshire County Councils), and Barnet, Bromley and Wandsworth are already not  members of the LGA, it surely gives us some pause for thought.

“All councils are facing considerable financial pressures and so this needs to be considered because SCC is currently spending some £150,000 a year of Surrey Council Tax payers’ money on this, and other similar subscriptions. It is right that they are questioned to see if we are getting value for money or not, and whether we can and/or should continue this cost.”

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test One Response to Surrey Is Not Alone In Reconsidering LGA Membership

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    April 3, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Surely Lord Porter, in his struggle to ‘balance all interests within the LGA’ is assisted by the vice-chairmen?

    Vice chairman of the LGA is a post David Hodge holds, or held, in addition to the post he recently resigned from, Leader of the LGA’s Conservative Group.

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