Nothing new in best value

Both Judy Hirst ("They're selling off your council", 26 March) and Ken Walker (Letters, 9 April) are making heavy weather of the best value programmes for local government. These are nothing more than a few management routines for reviewing performance which should have been standard procedure in local authorities for the past 40 years. They do not necessarily lead to privatisation (Hirst) and can be a useful way to avoid it. Walker's awestruck discovery, that Tony Blair has said it means "providing services people want at prices they are willing to pay", has been an aim, of Labour authorities at least, for a century.

The really damaging policies foisted on local government by the DETR are: private finance initiatives; performance planning, incorporating hundreds of bizarre performance indicators; elected mayors; "cabinets" of "portfolio holders"; and "scrutiny" arrangements that few councillors or officers can understand.

John Garrett