Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The new localism (Lib Dem coalition approved)

If there is one thing on which our new coalition is surely agreed it is that it will not be a bossy centralising force. Local government will be given its head. Local voters should be able to decide on things that are best left to local decision-making. After all, the Coalition Bible says so in plain terms:
We have a shared ambition to clean up Westminster and a determination to oversee a radical redistribution of power away from Westminster and Whitehall to councils, communities and homes across the nation.
So, just how radical will this redistribution be? First, Michael Gove has published legislation which effectively transfers all planning decisions on schools to his department. Then, Eric Pickles stops councils from deciding for themselves (and facing the electoral consequences) how to improve recycling quotas. And the coalition is barely a month old.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against either decision: councils too often rode roughshod over parents when it came to schools, and I've no wish to pay bin taxes. But then I've never come out with guff like this when trying to woo council leaders:
So today I want to look at what decentralisation should really be about. What it can achieve. And how we can make it more than a rhetorical fad. I am drawn to the philosophy of decentralisation and local empowerment for many reasons. There’s the basic principle of subsidiarity – the liberal belief that decisions just ought to be taken as close to the people they affect as possible.
Another Lib Dem triumph in coalition then.

1 comment:

Tom Richmond said...

Local government is likely to prove problematic. The Conservative manifesto included a commitment to a freeze in council tax - even though council tax is set by each individual council...