Enfield hospital closure and today’s other top local stories

Enfield Council challenges Barnet, Enfield and Haringey (BEH) Clinical Strategy. In May, Andrew Lansley set four tests that service changes to the NHS would need to meet. One of these tests was “consistency with current and future patient choice”. This was widely seen as killing off unpopular reforms. Indeed, within two weeks of the election, Lansley visited Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield to stop cuts to emergency and maternity services that had been agreed by the Labour government. 6 months later, however, normal service has been resumed. The NHS consultation-juggernaut has yet again ridden rough-shod over deep-set community opposition. This self-congratulatory note in the NHS press release will surely have local people reaching for the green ink:

(The independent reveiwers) noted that stakeholder views were specifically sought from local GPs, Local Involvement Networks and Health and Overview and Scrutiny Committees (HOSC) – the groups identified in guidance provided by the Department of Health.

No mention of local people. Shurely shome mishtake?

Ministers deal fresh blow to city’s road charging. DPM Nick Clegg made big-bones at Lib Dem conference of allowing councils greater powers to raise their own money. But, in a letter to Manchester City Council, Norman Baker and Bob Neill argued a 10-0 vote would be required to pass any proposal on road user charging. That’s effectively killed the scheme dead. The LGiU, as a think tank that specialises in local democracy, would have to observe that a 10-0 vote at the behest of central government is neither local nor democratic. It’s another disappointing blot on the government’s localist copybook.

Review of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (England). The Children’s Commissioner, in her current form, is not long for this world. Sarah Tether has accepted John Dunford’s recommendation that the Office be merged with Children’s Rights Director in Ofsted and remuneration cut. The reconfigured role will have responsibility for promoting and protecting children’s rights on the basis of the UNCRC and report to Parliament and the Department for Education.

What’s left of localism? CPSP Director John Tizard has a fairly gloomy take on localism on the Progress website. “If you are a council facing frontloaded cuts of up to 40 per cent, then greater freedom in how you spend it means little but a devolved axe”. We’d be a little sunnier than that, but point taken.