COUNCIL LEADERS SET OUT BOLD REFORMS
THE boldest report ever published by the Local Government
Association will this week set out a radical new vision for how
power should be removed from Whitehall and put into the hands of
local people, voluntary organisations and local councils.
The report, Closer to People and Places, backed by the leaders of
all the political parties in local government, calls for a series of
sweeping changes to local government and will call for a 'clamour
for change' by local people to help make this happen.
Key proposals in the report include:-
1. Slashing 1,000 targets to save taxpayers £2.5billion
2. Giving councils extra
powers including over transport, infrastructure, planning, economic
development and skills
3. A return of the local
Business Rates with an inflation safeguard so they have freedom in
raising revenue and setting their budgets
4. The power for local
people to hold NHS chief executives, police chiefs and council
leaders to account if they consistently perform poorly
5. Dedicated budgets for
ward councillors to spend on local projects
6. Greater 'postcode
7. Opposition to any
proposals by central government to cut the number of councils or
Local authorities are responsible for a budget of £85billion, have
2.2million employees and 20,000 elected councillors and the report
sets out how the money and the people could be given more freedom to
improve the lives of local people without interference from
At the launch of the report, Chairman of the Local Government
Association, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said:- "Our objectives
are to improve public services, widening both access and choice, and
offering opportunity for all; to ensure value for money making
better use of the public's taxes; and to create attractive, vibrant,
prosperous, safe and friendly places where people are proud to live.
There is, however, a further challenge. We see an erosion of
democracy, a crisis of trust, a cynicism with politicians and with
the ability of seemingly unreachable governance to deliver
solutions. We must give people back power and influence over their
lives, their local services, and the future of the places where they
Of all the major democracies and economies of the world, England is
unique in the degree of central control exerted over public services
and local government. This has wasted the public's money. It has
sapped the energy, enterprise and innovation of front line staff. It
has denied local choice, and eroded local democracy itself. It
is time for Whitehall to decentralise, devolve and deregulate to set
people free of bureaucracy and improve the lives of millions of
Local government itself could not be in better shape for this
challenge. The Treasury has reported that councils lead the public
sector in efficiency gains, making £2.6 million of savings a day.
The Audit Commission reports that seven out of ten of the biggest
local authorities are improving well or strongly. Not only
have we got our houses in order, but we in local government also
have a vision, a compelling argument which seeks to champion the
cause of local people, to make a difference to their lives and
respond to their needs, hopes and ambitions. Today, we initiate a
public debate across England about this vision and create a clamour
We are also very clear that for this renaissance in local government
to come about, we must set tough goals for our own sector. Local
authorities must show that they do not want greater devolution from
Westminster just for its own sake. They must persuade their
communities that decentralisation is about allowing them to realise
better the ambitions of the people who live and work there, devolve
power further beyond the town hall and deliver ever more value for
money. The quid pro quo also means that council leaders must accept
that the buck stops with them when things go wrong. The time
has come for audacious and deep-seated reform. Local government is
coming up with the route map and readying itself for the immense
task ahead. We call upon central government to join us on this
journey to a better future for all."
Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association and leader of the
Labour group, Sir Jeremy Beecham, said:- "We have shared
ambitions between central and local government. We have a consensus
across Westminster that we need a decentralising, devolving and
deregulating agenda in order to improve public services and
strengthen local democracy."
Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Margaret Eaton OBE, said:-
"Closer to People and Places sets out our vision for the future
of local government. It promotes the concept of local people having
a real say about how their communities are run, with local leaders
being the drivers of service improvement and free from the controls
and regulations of central government."
Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Richard Kemp said:-
"Over the past few years local government has made major strides
in changing the way they do business. That significant change has
yet to be realised in the practices of large parts of central
government. Government still wastes billions on the deliverance of
national priorities which do not match the real needs of
communities. Closer to People and Places will help government
deliver services for local people and help get value for money for
Deputy leader of the Independent group, Cllr Keith Ross, said:-
"There is an emerging consensus that further improvement in
public services and the quality of life can be best driven locally
through strong local partnerships across the public sector, focusing
on locally drawn targets and priorities, and working more closely
with the private, business, voluntary and community sectors."
Letter to editor from British Athlete, Christian Malcolm
"People often spend
24 hours a day 365 days a year looking after someone else because
they cannot cope alone due to illness, frailty, disability or
For someone like me who is out training all week it is really hard
to imagine what it is like hardly ever being able to leave the home
or do what they want to do. Many suffer ill health and their own
wellbeing or a break is the last thing on their mind.
I am really pleased to see that Norwich Union are providing the
support to allow 1,200 family carers to get a well earned break –
five days in Pontin’s in Blackpool with lots of other people who
understand exactly what they are going through. The Norwich Union
Breaks for carers organised by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers
allows carers a true break, meals are cooked for them, entertainment
is organised and most of all they get to truly relax and think of
them for once. I’m going this year and I am really looking forward
to meeting as many carers as I can.
The reason I wanted to tell you about this is that the break takes
place in Carers Week to run on 12June to 18 June 2006. One of the key aims of
Carers Week is to raise awareness of who carers are, many carers
don’t know they are carers they are just looking after mum, dad,
son, daughter, husband or wife. By helping people identify
themselves as a carer we can help them realise they can get support
for them from The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
To find out more
take a look at
LETTER TO THE EDITOR:- "Everyman
Male... Cancer Awareness Month."
"I've been brave enough to pose naked for Cosmopolitan magazine this
June to help raise awareness of testicular and prostate cancer. So
now I'm calling on your readers to do their bit during the Everyman
Cancer Awareness Month.
Prostate cancer currently kills 1 man an hour in the UK and vital
research is still needed so that we can understand the causes and
develop better techniques for diagnosis and treatment.
Testicular cancer affects around 2,000 men a year in the UK, but if
it's caught early then it can be cured in around 99% of cases.
That's why it's so important that men check themselves regularly.
So make sure you are aware of the facts and find out ways to get
involved and donate by visiting Everyman's website
everyman-campaign.org or calling 0800 731 9468
for a free information leaflet." Craig Doyle,
presenter on Capital Radio and the BBC.
Merseyside County golf league introduced for players of all
A NEW men’s amateur golf league has been launched in
Merseyside as part of a nationwide event.
The competition has been
designed to allow players of all abilities to enter using the golf
The aim is to find the best amateur player in each
County in the UK, who will then go on to play in regional and
Paul Matthews, Tournament Director said in an interview with BBC
Sport:- “For many years, playing golf at County level has been
restricted to those fortunate enough to firstly belong to a club,
and then to be selected by the club committee to represent their
club in County events.
This new event removes those barriers to
entry by allowing club members and non-members alike, to compete on
the same terms.
Our aim was to create a County based league
that is available to the golfing masses, not just the chosen elite.
This event provides a fair opportunity for all players to test their
skills against other players in their County and a chance to meet
new people and play new courses.”
League matches will be played throughout the UK over 4 rounds
throughout the summer of 2006, where players will meet to battle it
out for league points.
County winners will be invited to play in the
regional finals held at the prestigious courses across the UK and
may make it through to the final at the Old Course, Portugal.
To be part of the experience, go to the
website and find out how to enter
before the 9 June 2006.