Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-223)
20 MAY 2008
Q220 Judy Mallaber: Are you saying
that it should not exist, that you are opposed to it? The things
we have been sent as lobby material by LGA and yourselves is slightly
more nuanced than that. They do not say, "We think this is
a bad idea and we should not do it." Is that your official
Councillor Sutton: That is the
official position, yes.
Q221 Judy Mallaber: That the LBRO
should not exist.
Councillor Sutton: As somebody
who has tackled local authority budgets and had to deliver budgets
within low council tax increases, I think the £4.5 million
would perhaps have been better placed at the coal face rather
than on another tier of bureaucracy, when we have something like
the LGA and LACORS which do that function to some degree.
Q222 Judy Mallaber: To go back to
my question on what would be the relationship between local authorities
and the LBRO, it sounds as though you are saying there will not
really be one because it is not relevant.
Councillor Sutton: No, there is
a relationship now. I think the question is: What is the relationship
between the LBRO, the LGA, LACORS and other government spending
departments? There is anecdotal evidence of government spending
departments holding their hands up when certain things are coming
out of this and this is absolutely not the way we want to move
forward. That goes back to the question: Where are the BRE and
the LBRO best placed to have those influences?
Q223 Dr Naysmith: Can you give an
example of where that is happening, where spending departments
are holding their hands up and saying, "This is not the way
we want to go"?
Ms Martin: Yes, I could follow
those up in writing. It tends to happen around negotiation. Given
that the LBRO exists now, one of the roles we have always felt
it could be very important in doing is being the government's
advisers on regulatory issues, yet we have had issues with new
legislation still coming through or being discussed or debated
where we have real concerns about the need for that legislation.
Certainly local councils do not necessarily want to be enforcing
it. We would really like the LBRO to be able to have a role in
influencing the ministerial departments about whether that is
an appropriate process or not. It may well simply be a feature
that until they have their statutory powers it is difficult for
them to do that, so, again, we are in a state of flux at the moment,
but we would really like to see the LBRO exert influence. The
political realities are the question of how much they will if
you have a department with a Secretary of State and the LBRO is
a very separate organisation. We have tried to use those routes
before when we have had concerns about legislation. We have really
not been able to get very far in getting changes. I can give specific
examples as supplementary evidence if that would help the Committee.
I will do that. Thank you.
Chairman: Thank you very much. That was
an enlightening session. We look forward to your additional evidence.