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13/08/2010
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Communities and local government

The Government believes that it is time for a fundamental shift of power from Westminster to people. We will promote decentralisation and democratic engagement, and we will end the era of top-down government by giving new powers to local councils, communities, neighbourhoods and individuals.

  • We will promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups. This will include a review of local government finance.
  • We will rapidly abolish Regional Spatial Strategies and return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils, including giving councils new powers to stop ‘garden grabbing’.
  • In the longer term, we will radically reform the planning system to give neighbourhoods far more ability to determine the shape of the places in which their inhabitants live, based on the principles set out in the Conservative Party publication ‘Open Source Planning’.
  • We will abolish the unelected Infrastructure Planning Commission and replace it with an efficient and democratically accountable system that provides a fast-track process for major infrastructure projects.
  • We will publish and present to Parliament a simple and consolidated national planning framework covering all forms of development and setting out national economic, environmental and social priorities.
  • We will maintain the Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and other environmental protections, and create a new designation – similar to SSSIs – to protect green areas of particular importance to local communities.
  • We will abolish the Government Office for London and consider the case for abolishing the remaining Government Offices.
  • We will provide more protection against aggressive bailiffs and unreasonable charging orders, ensure that courts have the power to insist that repossession is always a last resort, and ban orders for sale on unsecured debts of less than £25,000.
  • We will explore a range of measures to bring empty homes into use.
  • We will promote shared ownership schemes and help social tenants and others to own or part-own their home.
  • We will promote ‘Home on the Farm’ schemes that encourage farmers to convert existing buildings into affordable housing.
  • We will create new trusts that will make it simpler for communities to provide homes for local people.
  • We will phase out the ring-fencing of grants to local government and review the unfair Housing Revenue Account.
  • We will freeze Council Tax in England for at least one year, and seek to freeze it for a further year, in partnership with local authorities.
  • We will create directly elected mayors in the 12 largest English cities, subject to confirmatory referendums and full scrutiny by elected councillors.
  • We will give councils a general power of competence.
  • We will ban the use of powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by councils, unless they are signed off by a magistrate and required for stopping serious crime.
  • We will allow councils to return to the committee system, should they wish to.
  • We will abolish the Standards Board regime.
  • We will stop the restructuring of councils in Norfolk, Suffolk and Devon, and stop plans to force the regionalisation of the fire service.
  • We will impose tougher rules to stop unfair competition by local authority newspapers.
  • We will introduce new powers to help communities save local facilities and services threatened with closure, and give communities the right to bid to take over local state-run services.
  • We will implement the Sustainable Communities Act, so that citizens know how taxpayers’ money is spent in their area and have a greater say over how it is spent.
  • We will cut local government inspection and abolish the Comprehensive Area Assessment.
  • We will require continuous improvements to the energy efficiency of new housing.
  • We will provide incentives for local authorities to deliver sustainable development, including for new homes and businesses.
  • We will review the effectiveness of the raising of the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers.
  • We will give councillors the power to vote on large salary packages for unelected council officials.

View the Governments response to these comments

Your comments (352)

  1. Ned Pakenham says:

    I think local councils should offer their communities much more choice on planning issues. In particular, we need referenda on all new developments: whether to build them and what they should look like if built. The vast majority of major new buildings of the last sixty years have insulted the architectural heritage around them. Architects must offer people not just a choice of modernist designs but also a design sympathetic to the local vernacular building tradition. Many people I suspect, if given the choice, would vote for a brick and stucco neo-Victorian or neo-Georgian design rather than the glass and metal cereal boxes so favoured by the industry.

  2. Ashley Wills says:

    I implore this Gov’t to look at enacting reforms which would set out
    the creation of a revolution in local government.

    Namely, seek to emulate the American’s in establishing new mode of
    constitutional democracy in our counties by way of electing a Governor.

    Similar in stature to the Mayor of London, a county Governor would be
    the focal point for politics in your community, given a face and a voice
    to that area and providing genuine accountability and innovation within
    local government.

    At the moment, local gov’t is too anonymous, too faceless and nobody
    knows how to change things. But by adopting the USA model, this would change
    and furthermore, it would invite candidates of high calibre to stand, sensing
    the possibility of real power and authority to make change and reform.

    This would also have a filter down effect, with eventual candidates for party
    leaderships having been a previous Governor for Yorkshire or Devon etc
    ensuring a future Prime Minister having had previous administration experience
    within executive government.

    This proposal would truly embolden local democracy.