Tag Archives: localism bill

Haringey Liberal Democrats show two ways to make use of new legal powers

I am currently putting together a new book for ALDC which has at its heart ways that councillors and local campaigners can make use of the new legal powers heading their way under the Localism Act and other devolving legislation. Many of the powers are very effective for getting local issues sorted and local communities improved, but will sit on the shelf achieving nothing if active campaigners do not pick them up and put them to use.

It is good to see that Haringey Liberal Democrats are already well ahead of me putting into practice two of the ideas which the book will include.

Posted in Local government | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

That’s the way to do it! How Liberal Democrats made the running on the Localism Bill

Annette Brooke MP and Lord (Graham) Tope are the Lib Dem Co-Chairs of the Parliamentary Policy Committee on Communities and Local Government, and led the Lib Dem response to the Localism Bill. Here they outline what they, working with colleagues in the party and many beyond, helped achieve.

Last night the Localism Bill completed its final stage in Parliament and is set to become law when it achieves Royal Assent next week.

As Co-Chairs of the Parliamentary Policy Committee on Communities and Local Government, it has been our job over the last ten months to lead on the Bill for the party. We’ve helped shepherd it through both Houses of Parliament, and have led a Lib Dem team that in many ways has made the running on the Bill.

We’ve had strong engagement with Coalition ministers, who engaged with us constructively, particularly Greg Clark, Baroness Hanham and our very own Andrew Stunell, who was very helpful and willing to work together with us to improve the Bill considerably.

Colleagues in local government were also a constant source of help and good ideas, which never ceased to better inform our Bill team as the process went on.

Where we started from: “a good bill in theory, with several flaws in practice”

When it was first introduced, I think many Liberal Democrats would agree that it was a good bill in theory, with several flaws in practice.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 13 Comments

Opinion: Four ways we can tackle the housing crisis

Housing is moving up the agenda -– and looks like being a key issue in next year’s London elections. The Greater London Authority now has more powers over housing and given London is still dogged by a lack of affordable homes to rent, lease or buy, despite the recession, it’s reasonable for Londoners to expect the next Mayor and Assembly to take action.

Building more homes in a time of public sector cuts will be a challenge, and even using what we’ve got more efficiently will take a lot of cash. So we will need a range of ideas if we’re …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 24 Comments

Electoral Commission calls for local Council Tax referendums to be postponed

The Electoral Commission has called on Parliament to modify the Localism Bill to delay the proposed start date for local referendums on Council Tax levels, neighbourhood development plans and local authority structures (e.g. elected Mayors) from Spring 2012 to Spring 2013.

It’s forthright message, headlined (in capital letters no less): “IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATION TO PARLIAMENT” is that with the legislation not yet passed by Parliament, there will simply not be enough time between it being passed and the proposed first possible local referendum date for the contests to be properly run. Instead, it says implementation should be delayed by a year in order to provide a sufficient gap between legislation and implementation.

This sort of warning by the Electoral Commission has become a regular feature of autumnal politics as governments of different political complexions have pushed through legislation ahead of the following spring. However, in this case their views are being expressed in a particularly strident manner.

That is no doubt due to the fact that the creation of local referendums raises far more issues of administrative organisation than the changes introduced by previous rounds of legislation. In theory, for example, some lucky voters could get to vote in five different referendums on the same day in the spring, with those different referendums taking place across differing organisational boundaries.

Localism Bill: Electoral Commission briefing for Lords Third Reading

Posted in Election law | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Opinion: Delivering local citizens’ initiatives

Five years ago, back in the final throws of the Blair government, when Cameron was still hugging hoodies and Ed Miliband was just a twinkle in the unions’ eyes, I worked for an organisation called Our Say.

Our Say campaigned for the introduction of citizens’ initiatives in the UK, referendums that can be instigated by a petition of a certain percentage of citizens in a given area.

The campaign wasn’t active for very long but it received cross party support, primarily from backbenchers. Overall, Conservative MPs more than Liberal Democrats or backbench Labour MPs received it better. In fact the Lib …

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

The Independent View: Lib Dem peers kill local referendums

On the 10th of October the House of Lords killed off the prospect of voters getting the power to initiate referendums on local issues. Up until then the Localism Bill had contained a modest proposal to give local people in England the power to call non-binding referendums on local issues if 5% of their fellow voters supported them. The proposal was hedged in with safeguards and protections to ensure that it did not contravene national laws or go beyond the powers of the local authority.

But the hopes that this could see revival of local democracy with citizens being given the …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 27 Comments

The Independent View: The General Power of Competence – Is the sky the limit?

As the Localism Bill moves into Report stage in the Lords, local authorities are getting ever closer to gaining their much discussed General Power of Competence (GPoC).

For Lib Dems the passage of the Localism Bill is an interesting moment. Many, one suspects, might echo the views of former Lib Dem LGA leader Cllr Richard Kemp who in January blogged his ‘support about 80% of the Bill, like the direction but have concerns about the deliverability of 15% of the Bill, and actively detest 5% of it.’

Though Kemp’s reservations were reserved for the provisions concerning elected mayors, Lib Dems …

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Opinion: The ‘democratic filter’ disempowers tenants

As Liberal Democrats we should be very welcoming of the Localism Bill. The measures included in it to bring power back to local communities have been at the heart of our politics for many years, and will give people a real say in local decision making. Empowering people was key to me becoming active in the tenant’s movement in the 80’s, why I joined the Liberal Party back then and cut my teeth in politics in Tower Hamlets, and why I stood for Council in Islington years later.

Empowering people is key to being a Liberal Democrat, Indeed, Andrew Stunell …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Chris White writes: What do you want for your birthday?

I am fifty tomorrow. Relatives sometimes ask me what I would like for my birthday and I reply with things like ‘ties, jacket, Ipad, North American art…’. The usual.

This year, though, a real treat: a meeting with Eric Pickles. I have already given the standard response to the organisers: ‘You shouldn’t have….It’s what I’ve always wanted…’

They have even arranged for a large posse of other Lib Dem group leaders to join me to make the hour go swimmingly.
Apparently there is no agenda as such. Just an opportunity to put across some messages.

But what, in a single hour?

Clearly we …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Opinion: Putting the Localism Bill in a Social Liberal context

In embracing principles of The Big Society and Localism, have the Liberal Democrats being railroaded into an erosion of the public state, seemingly by accident?

The initial premise of the Localism Bill appeals greatly to Liberal Democrat in the Conservative-led Coalition. What is there about bringing power to local communities that is not to be liked?

It could be argued that the principles of the Localism Bill were in fact first proposed within the Coalition Agreement, where Page 11 states;

We will promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Opinion: Are the Government in danger of recreating the GLC by the back-door?

When is localism not localism? When it comes to London apparently!

As the Localism Bill makes its way through its committee stages in the House of Commons the clauses that have an impact on London were rushed and hardly discussed on Tuesday afternoon.

This is unfortunate because this is the one part of the bill where the idea of localism is stopped dead in its tracks. In contrast to the localist approach applied across England in the rest of the bill, when it comes to London it seems that devolution stops at a regional level.

There are three specific proposals in the …

Posted in London and Op-eds | Also tagged | Leave a comment

Chris White writes: New Year challenges for localists

Andrew Stunell told Lib Dem Voice in December: ‘The Localism Bill presents a lot of positive news for local government.’

I don’t demur from that but there is much we need to challenge in this Bill.

Take for instance the much vaunted General Power of Competence. If you open Volume 1 of the Bill (yes, it is that long) you will find that the Secretary of State ‘may by order make provision preventing local authorities from doing, in exercise of the general power, anything which is specified, or is of a description specified, in the order.’

Basically the Secretary of State can, …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

Andrew Stunell writes… Localism Bill and finance settlement are defining moment for local government

Yesterday was an important day in local government as I and my ministerial colleagues were able to announce the two big planks of our approach to local government over the coming years – the Local Government Finance Settlement and the Localism Bill. They are huge milestones in the Coalition’s programme of reform, and will impact on councils in many important ways.

The Local Government Finance Settlement was always going to be difficult. Cuts have to be made across all areas of government spending, and local government is no different. My top priority in this area has been to ensure that the …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | 23 Comments

Localism and council funding: today’s announcements

Two big pieces of local government news today – more powers and less money.

On the more powers front, here are some of the highlights from the Localism Bill:

  • A General Power of Competence for Councils – in other words, councils will in future be able to do what they think is right for their area, rather than only be able to take action in areas laid down by central government
  • Letting councils return to the Committee System if they wish, and introducing the option for more Directly Elected Mayors
  • Abolition of the Standards Board
  • Giving local people the power to veto “excessive” council tax increases
  • Devolve

Posted in Local government and News | Also tagged | 30 Comments

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