Tag Archives: Local government

Local Government doing less to achieve more

Darlington Borough Council is skint. One of the smallest local authorities in the country, Darlington was created as a Unitary Authority in 1997. Since then, it has been governed (like many Northern councils) exclusively by Labour, and it now stands on the verge of bankruptcy (the two facts may not be unrelated).

Specifically, the Council have calculated the need for £12.5m in spending cuts over the next four years. To go: Darlington’s historic indoor market, the public library (both of which were donated to the town by the Pease family), the town centre’s Christmas lights and floral displays, several children’s centres, and multiple other social, environmental and cultural services. Streets will be swept less frequently. Charges will be introduced for blue badge holders.

Are these cuts to local services best blamed on central government, with its reduction in funding for local authorities, or on incompetent and profligate local councils? Certainly, cuts in central government funding have been made, with the provision of local services affected; certainly, other local authorities facing similar cuts are not broke. The truth of the matter is probably somewhere between the two!

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Kate Parminter: There should be compulsory community engagement before planning process begins

Public consultation meeting photo by Craik Sustainable Living Project CCL FLickrThis week, Liberal Democrat peer Kate Parminter took place in a debate organised by the Town and Country Planning Association on the subject of planning for people. She emphasised the importance of engaging communities at every stage in the planning process:

Parminter said a number of local authorities still have a problem with local plans and with giving planning permission by appeal. This does not, she said, offer any incentive or encouragement to local communities to “think that a neighbourhood plan is going to work for them because they see in so many areas that it about planning by appeal. Therefore, the mood is not conducive to more planning”.

Parminter said Liberal Democrats are “struck by the need” for formal community engagement early in the planning process. While neighbourhood planning is something that can be built on, it isn’t a formal enough way to engage the community in a large development to ensure that the design is right, that the needs of the community are met, not just the need for more housing.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Good news from Cornwall – Liberal Democrats hold council seat

Great news from Cornwall where the Liberal Democrats have held on to the Launceston Central ward on Cornwall Council with a whopping 63% of the vote:

Posted in News | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Liberal Democrat councillors withdraw from East Dunbartonshire administration

Liberal Democrat Councillors in East Dunbartonshire have withdrawn from the Council’s administration. The three councillors had been in coalition with Labour and Conservatives since 2012. The move leaves Labour and Conservatives with 11 councillors facing an opposition of 13. The two parties will continue as a minority administration.

From the BBC:

It said it would withdraw from the arrangement amid an ongoing row related to a sports complex in Bishopbriggs.

If the move goes ahead, Labour and the Conservatives will continue as a minority administration.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Ashay Ghai, said: “When we entered coalition in 2012 all parties agreed that we would not put forward recommendations unless all three groups agreed.

“However, Labour and Conservatives broke the agreement by forcing through proposals to underwrite a further £4.4m for the Huntershill sports complex when there were so many unanswered questions.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Labour Lords give up on votes at 16 in local elections

Yesterday in the House of Lords, during Parliamentary ping pong on the Cities and Local Government Bill, the Liberal Democrats tried to secure votes at 16. Labour peers, though, didn’t bother to turn up. This is yet another example of them being much more craven than you would expect of an opposition, especially one that thinks itself to be of a more radical hue than Labour has been for a while. This is a policy which was in their manifesto and they should have turned out to support it.

Ever since the tax credits vote in October, Labour peers seem to have got cold feet, allowing themselves to be intimidated by ministers.

Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler was far from impressed, saying:

This no show from Labour means that over a million people will not get a voice in future local elections.

Despite vowing to give 16 year olds the vote in their manifesto the Labour party are now shying away from standing by their policies.

It is clear that Labour do not have the drive or determination to act as the opposition that this country needs.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Passing the buck for the cuts

George Osborne, and the Tory Party for that matter, are lucky so and so’s – even jammy, as they used to say where I come from. The goings on in Parliament yesterday illustrate perfectly why the government can make itself virtuous by not doing what it said it would only a few weeks ago. Not only are Tax Credits safe for the time being (although how long we the tax payers should continue to subsidise employers is debatable); but also Police Budgets are to be protected, thanks to the £27bn the Chancellor has suddenly found from somewhere.

We can speculate about the wheels eventually coming off the Tory wagon; but don’t hold your breath. Even with a slim majority it is unlikely that there will be enough by elections between now and 2020 for the balance of power to shift decisively, and, in any case, at 42% in one recent opinion poll, it’s unlikely the Tories will lose the plot.

What worries me more is how local government is going to cope with the cuts still to come its way over the next five years unless another non U turn might be in the pipeline. My authority, which has responsibility for Adult Social Care, can now, in theory, raise its portion of the Council Tax by 3.99% without the need for a referendum. That increase works out at about 83p per week for a Band D property in Lincolnshire and would raise around £9 million of which around £4 million would be ring fenced for Adult Social Care. However, as government grants will continue to be reduced that means that, as far as my county is concerned, things will, at best, more or less stand still.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Ten Lib Dem council leaders call for borrowing powers to build council houses

Terraced housing
Ten Liberal Democrat council leaders, including the party’s local government spokesperson Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, have written to the Guardian to call for the government to allow councils to borrow money to build council houses to deal with the “national emergency” in housing provision:

As Liberal Democrat council leaders we are outraged at the government’s short-sightedness in selling off council homes to pay for the right-to-buy extension to housing associations (PM warns councils over housing provision, 12 October). We have a vast shortage of affordable homes, which constitutes nothing short of a national emergency, and yet the government is seeking to make quick financial gains by disposing of properties that could provide much-needed homes for generations. Forcing right to buy on housing associations was the wrong policy before the election and it remains the wrong policy now. Shifting homes from one tenure to another without addressing our failure to build enough homes overall is like rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarnigel hunter 3rd May - 12:27am
    Goldsmith might be a nice person as an individual but as a Tory Party member he is only interested in power for himself and his...
  • User Avatarmalc 2nd May - 11:38pm
    Stuart I couldn't agree with you more. I've voted Labour or Lib Dem all my life, but these days both seem obsessed with minority causes,...
  • User AvatarRobert Wootton 2nd May - 11:13pm
    A change in the law is necessary to end this housing scandal. Make it illegal for landlords to charge rent for sub standard housing and...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 2nd May - 10:18pm
    @ Stevan Rose "Aggression is a fact of life and if you are not prepared to defend yourself you will be eliminated." Sorry, that is...
  • User AvatarJonathan Ferguson 2nd May - 9:18pm
    Thanks again for the comments everyone, and I hope I have not omitted referring to too many important points that came up. I also hope...
  • User AvatarJonathan Ferguson 2nd May - 9:15pm
    To Lorenzo: Thank you for raising the point about the character of the Liberal Democrats. There is some truth in what you are saying in...