From infancy to marriage in 23 years

15th November 1996 at 00:00
Daniel Rosenthal recalls the stormy relationship between town hall and Whitehall. 1974 Local government reorganisation. AMA is formed and the County Councils Association (established in 1891) becomes the Association of County Councils. Joint AMAACC education committee is born and christened Cecilia (Central Council of Local Education Authorities) - this is quickly shortened to CLEA (Council of Local Education Authorities). Lord Alexander, secretary of the Association of Education Committees, says: "A nation can do without local government, but it can't do without education".

1975 Harold Wilson addresses the first conference of all local councils and alludes to a "considerable increase in the number of chiefs as opposed to indians".

1976 Ellis Hillman, chair of arts and recreation committee, becomes the driving force behind the influential AMA booklet on the dual use of schools. She goes on to become president of the Flat Earth Society. AMA calls for school menus to feature more beef to help use up the EEC beef mountain.

1977 ACC rejects the Taylor Report recommendation that school governing bodies should have an equal balance of teachers, parents, local authority representatives and members of the local community.

1978 The government makes a 60 per cent cut in cash to be spent on equipping new school buildings. AMA rejects a common exam at 16.

1979 Mrs Thatcher is elected. She suggests "good government rests on a partnership between Whitehall and town hall". Inner London Education Authority leader Sir Ashley Bramall says AMA has "sold education down the river". AMA rejects plan for a national lottery.

1982 Pressure from ACC and Conservative backbenchers persuades Government not to introduce legislation designed to penalise overspending local authorities.

1983 AMA declares its opposition to education vouchers. ACC blocks substantial pay rise for London's 78,000 teachers. Rate-capping White Paper launched. ACC opposes removal of long-standing rule which allows three pupils up to the age of 15 to share two seats on school buses.

1985 Teachers' pay dispute. AMA condemns government plans to force local authorities to privatise school meals and other services. AMA survey reveals that almost two-thirds of local authorities have cut their spending on school interior decoration since 1980.

1986 AMA chairman Sir Jack Layden says the government Green Paper Paying for Local Government should be renamed "Praying for Local Government".

1987 Local authorities lose voice in teachers' pay negotiations. ACC fails to convince government to introduce four-term school year. Plans for national curriculum, school opt-outs and Local Management of Schools unveiled in the Education Bill. ACC votes to oppose opting out.

1988 The Education Reform Act signals imminent reduction of local authority powers. AMA plays April Fool's trick on dozens of council treasurers by announcing that government has relaxed the rules governing capital receipts.

1989 ACC fends off challenge from Association of District Councils, which wants to kill off the counties as prime seat of local government.

1990 ILEA disbanded. LMS is introduced.

1991 ACC attacks government plans to take further education out of local authority control, warning of "centralised bureaucracy with no local democratic element". AMA suggests that 2001 should be target date for adequate educational provision for all under-fives.

1993 Further education colleges removed from local authority control.

1994 AMA attacks "delay and inefficiency" at Department for Education which "can occasionally jeopardise entire projects". Consultation on merger of AMA, ACC and ADC begins.

1996 Second wave of unitary councils comes into existence under the local government reorganisation programme. Creation of unified Local Government Association announced. The new body will come into operation on April 1, 1997.

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