Contract rules to be relaxed

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RULES forcing local authorities to put their services out to tender are to be lifted for up to 18 months for councils reorganised under the Government's changes to local government, writes Colin Brown.

Ministers made it clear the move is not the first step towards abandoning the policy, which Labour has opposed. Robin Squire, environment minister, said the exemptions would allow 'for a smooth transition to successor authorities . . .

'They will relieve both local authorities and contractors tendering for this work from the uncertainties surrounding the reorganisation process.'

The councils affected by reorganisation will be required to start compulsory competitive tendering as soon as possible after they are set up and to have new contracts in operation within 18 months.

The Local Government Commission is reviewing the structure of local government for the creation of more single tier authorities, which is expected to lead to revival of some old names, such as Rutland.