LGA board chair hits out at culture secretary

By Dan Peters | 22 October 2020

The chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) culture, tourism and sport board has claimed culture secretary Oliver Dowden ‘won’t engage with us at all’.

Speaking to The MJ, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he had chaired the board for three years but had still not had a meeting, phone call or conversation with the secretary of state.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘There is a group in DCMS [Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport] looking strategically at recovery and local government is not on it and the Royal Ballet is.

'It’s a very London-centric group.

‘So far the Government seems uninterested in local government being part of the strategic work at DCMS.

'The Government doesn’t really seem to have that much interest in working with us.

'They don’t seem to think local government has a strategic role and they’re obviously mistaken.

‘We’ve made these points frequently.

'We are disappointed at the LGA.’

A DCMS statement read: 'The cultural renewal taskforce has supported work to deliver our unprecedented £1.57bn culture recovery fund to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions.

'It has overseen more than 45 pieces of guidance produced for the COVID-secure reopening of recreation and leisure settings, allowing multiple sectors to open.

'Our priority is to ensure that organisations get the funding they need as swiftly as possible.

'The taskforce continues to meet, but at this point in time is not seeking new members.'

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