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Local government collaboration is vital for community services, says MP Andrew Gwynne

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Labour’s Andrew Gwynne believes the best way principal and local (parish and town) councils can deliver for their local communities is to work better together.

In an exclusive interview for the National Association of Local Councils’ (NALC) official magazine, LCR, the shadow secretary for Communities and Local Government encouraged more partnership working between principal and local councils.

He said: “Principal authorities shouldn’t view local councils as something to be suspicious of. They should see them as genuine partners for change within a community. This isn’t the reason for having local councils, but a lot of cooperation is being forced onto principal authorities because they realise that they can’t deliver services on their own and they need help. They need the help of local councils to be able to continue providing some of the most basic neighbourhood place-based services.”

He added that there are some good examples of where collaboration is working, where principal authorities have passed down powers and have allowed local councils to run services on behalf of principal authorities.

“But,” he said, “there are still too many areas where local councils are viewed with suspicion. Where this is happening there should be a duty to cooperate in a positive sense, not a reluctant sense.”

Meanwhile, he said that he was “genuinely worried” about the role of local communities post-Brexit.

He explained: “It’s a double-edged sword that there will be so many communities that will be left behind if there isn’t a strong and powerful local government voice. What we’ve got to make sure of is that there isn’t a disconnect between the elected and the electors. I believe that is where local councils have a real role to play.”

He also said that if powers from Brussels are returned to Westminster, it would be “unforgivable” if there wasn’t further devolution to local authorities. “If I’m critical of some of the devolution that has taken place in parts of the UK, it seems to be a one-way devolution. We need devolution to go beyond the city region level to local communities so that they feel they have a stake.”

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