Pickles: “Today marks the beginning of an historic shift of power from Whitehall to every community”

Yesterday the Localism Bill gained royal assent. DCLG have issued a press release outlining the key measures in the Act and this useful plain English guide.

Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities Eric Pickles said:

“Today marks the beginning of an historic shift of power from Whitehall to every community to take back control of their lives.

“The Localism Act pulls down the Whitehall barricades so it will no longer call the shots over communities – bug bears like housing targets and bin taxes are gone.

“For too long, local people were held back and ignored because Whitehall thought it knew best. That is changing for good. Councils have their General Power of Competence and residents have a real power over decisions like council tax, town hall pay, planning, community buildings or local services.”

Over the last year LGiU has published a series of Localism briefings – including planning, referenda and the general power of competence – which can all be downloaded for free by members here.

There are also many localism posts on this blog – such as these.

We will be publishing two detailed briefings in the next two weeks once the final wording of the Act has been published. One will deal with issues relating to planning and housing, the other to ‘democracy’ issues such as the general of competence and new powers fro communities.

Upcoming events

Community assets – The Localism Act notes that communities will have the opportunity to nominate assets for the list that are important to them. When listed assets come up for sale or change of ownership, community groups will have time to try and raise money and bid to buy the asset. It is intended that this aspect of the Bill will enable community groups to take over assets that are of value to them if they are threatened with sale or closure and ‘protect the heritage’ of their areas.This seminar will examine this part of the Localism Bill and the key issues arising from it, including questions around:

  • how this will work in practice
  • the difficulties in defining the criteria to be taken into account by local authorities when categorising assets of community value
  • how to tackle assets that straddle local authority boundaries
  • tensions that may arise over private business
  • the extent to which the Bill will be able to protect assets of community value.
Speakers include
-Community Assets team, DCLG
-Jonathan Carr-West, Director, LGiU

Click here for further information and bookings.

Right to run services – The White Paper on Open Public Services was published in July 2011 and details how the government plans to increase the role of social enterprises, mutuals and charities in the delivery of local public services. Councils are to be “expected to accept” proposals from frontline staff who want to set up mutuals to deliver public services under the right to provide initiative. In this seminar we will explore what this means for your local authority and those currently providing services.

Developing a more mixed system of public service provision will require appropriate planning and flexible implementation. Where social enterprises are employed they can transform services, re-energising staff, and delivering services that are more tailored to the needs of the community they serve. Our session will look at what the Localism legislation puts in place, what support is available from the voluntary/charitable sector and how councils are making the new system work by exploring the examples of the London Borough of Lambeth and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Speakers include
-Harry Phibbs, Conservative Councillor and Cabinet Member for Community Engagement London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Editor and Conservative Home Local Government blog
-Sophia Looney, Director Policy, Equalities and Performance London Borough of Lambeth
-Glyn Gaskarth, Policy Manager, LGiU
-National Council for Voluntary Organisations representative (NCVO) (invited)

Click here for further information and bookings.