LATEST UPDATE: Conservative Green Paper set for publication on Tuesday
UPDATE: The Green Paper looks set to be out early next week, depending on what else is going on in the media.
To parliament for a meeting with Caroline Spelman MP, recently appointed Shadow Secretarty of State for Communities and Local Government in David Cameron’s front bench reshuffle. Caroline reminds me she is returning to familiar territory, having held the role before becoming party chairman. The much delayed Green Paper on local government is imminent and Caroline is not planning to hold it up. She is comfortable with the general policy direction and is keen to see it published. She believes it will confirm the Tories as the party of localism. The LGiU’s work on the power of general competence, and on local government finance, will feature, and we will be commenting on all the proposals once published.
Caroline was coy on the specifics but we have a fair idea already of what to expect…
· A new power of General Competence
· Comprehensive Area Assessment to be scrapped
· RDAs and other regional structures will be scrapped in favour of new sub regional arrangements developed by local authorities where they make sense
· Councils who opt to put forward a Local Develoment Framework, to be signed off by government, will then be “immune from the planning inspectorate”
· Positive language on directly elected Mayors, but “wont be forced on you”
· An option for all councils to return to Committee system if they choose.
· No restructuring. Its a waste of time.
· On local government finance, a revue of the grant formula, and setting up an independent commission to set the formula and agree distribution (an idea borrowed from Australia)
More on emerging Conservative policy in the months ahead. In the meantime, please do send us your comments, and any information you pick up