Risk managers must be given a central role within local government if councils are to become successful modernisers.

So claimed Liz Taylor, chief executive of the Association of Local Authority Risk Managers (ALARM) at its conference this week.

Best value – the successor to compulsory competitive tendering of council services – was a key area for risk management, delegates were informed.

Taylor said that local services could not be judged as really delivering best value if they were subject to a series of claims from staff and users.

The conference recommended councils should minimise risks to increase the safety and quality of local services and improve budgetary control.

Ken Kennedy, from the biggest local authority insurer Zurich Municipal, argued: "Risk managers have a critical role to play in ensuring that these changes do not lead to increased risk."