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Friday, October 27, 2006
Local government white paper round-up
Oh, what a let-down. Months late and keeping everyone in limbo, and then when it arrives, it doesn't really have much in it. Word on the street is generally: why didn't they coordinate the WP with the Lyons review of LG finance out in a month, and the Barker review of planning? Seems pretty daft. And also that Gordon Brown is commissioning a new study into city regions b/c he doesn't want to have them while Tony does, so that's why its so weak in that respect.

Anyway, in brief:

It institutes three new ways that councils can be organised - directly elected mayor, directly elected cabinet that nominates a leader with no executive powers, or councillors, cabinet and leader as now, but functioning on a 4-year cycle where everyone gets elected at once. (The others also have a 4-year term.)

It supports city regions but doesn't say what they will do about it.

A few councils will be allowed to apply for unitary status (Norwich has already put its name in the hat.)

A lot of boring stuff about overview and scrutiny aimed at making things more accountable. A 'Community Call for Action' procedure which will supposedly "give local people a more powerful voice to question decisions taken by their council".

London will be allowed to have Parish Councils despite concerns about this increasing social stratification as rich areas go for it and poor ones don't. PCs to have power to set bylaws and collect spot fines.

Making it easier to set up tenant management organisations and hand over ownership of community assets to community groups.

Caroline Spelman's response: 'toothless', criticises the lack of coordination with the Lyons report and the Barker review, says it doesn't go far enough to devolve power.

Guardian comment here which takes the same view of the watered-down proposals as being maybe worthy, but at least vaguely in the right direction.

Comment from Involve, IPPR, and a useful idiot's guide from ePolitix if you can't be bothered to read the rest of the guff.

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