Letter: Local government leads the way

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Sir: The issue of standards in pub-lic life is at the top of the political agenda now that the Nolan Committee has begun to consider its evidence. The Nolan Committee could do worse than to look to local government for examples of "best practice".

The Association of County Councils (ACC), along with the other bodies representing local government in Britain, has submitted evidence to the Nolan Committee.

Councillors must declare any pecuniary interest in any decision they take part in. Further to this, they must declare an interest if their close family has a pecuniary interest, or if a close friendship might be seen as an undue influence. A register of interests is open to public inspection and, unlike for MP's, failure to register an interest is a criminal offence.

We are fortunate indeed that in local government there is still an ethos of serving the public interest without expectation of personal financial gain. The overwhelming majority of Britain's councillors work long hours often with less renumeration than people appointed to serve on quangos.

The high standards of propriety in local government, backed by strict guidelines, can provide an important example for elected members in all tiers of government in Britain.

Yours sincerely, JOSIE FARRINGTON Chair Association of County Councils London, SW1

17 January