Good meeting with John Ransford, new Chief Executive of the LGA, today. It was a smart move by Margaret Eaton and her colleagues to ask John to lead the Association in this critical time leading up to and immediately post the next General Election. John is frank about the difficulties of recent months, but our conversation was forward looking, about working together to get on the front foot, winning the argument for localism/local diversity across government and with the political parties. If there ever was such a thing as universal service provision, it is neither desirable nor possible to sustain it in the future. Instead we need to get people involved in making choices locally about public services that meet local needs and aspirations. That means shifting accountability and re-balancing our democracy, tilting it from Whitehall back to councillors and the communities they represent.