The Conservative Party General Election manifesto is published today. This is an at a glance guide on the key points for local government and local public services.
“We believe that if you decentralise power, you get better results and better value for money. So the plans set out in this manifesto represent an unprecedented redistribution of power and control from the central to the local, from politicians and the bureaucracy to individuals, families and neighbourhoods”
1. replace … police authorities with a directly-elected individual who will set policing priorities for local communities… responsible for setting the budget and the strategy for local police forces
2. pilot…Prison and Rehabilitation Trusts so that just one organisation is responsible for helping to stop a criminal re-offending
3. apply… transparency principles to local government, with the threshold for publication of spending items and contracts set at £500, and for the publication of salaries the same as at the national level
4. give councillors the power to vote on large salary packages for unelected council officials.
5. A ‘community right to buy’ scheme will give local people the power to protect any community assets that are threatened with closure.
6. give people a ‘right to bid’ to run any community service instead of the state
7. give parents the power to save local schools threatened by closure, allowing communities the chance to take over and run good small schools;
8. GPs to be put in charge of commissioning local health services.
9. give local councils a ‘general power of competence’, so that they have explicit authority to do what is necessary to improve their communities;
10. end ring-fencing so that funding can be spent on local priorities;
11. freeze council tax for two years, in partnership with local councils.
12. scrap Labour’s plans for an expensive and intrusive council tax revaluation (NB: Labour’s manifesto rules out revaluation)
13. scrap the hundreds of process targets Labour have imposed on councils;
14. end the bureaucratic inspection regime that stops councils focusing on residents’ main concerns
15. scrapping Labour’s uncompleted plans to impose unwieldy and expensive unitary councils and to force the regionalisation of the fire service
16. end the ‘predetermination rules’ that prevent councillors speaking up about issues that they have campaigned on
17. encourage greater use of ward budgets for councillors
18. launch an annual Big Society Day to celebrate the work of neighbourhood groups and encourage more people to take part in social action
19. implement fully the Sustainable Communities Act, and reintroduce the Sustainable communities Act (Amendment) Bill as government legislation, to give people greater information on, and control over, what is being spent by each government agency in their area.
20. give councils and businesses the power to form their own business-led local enterprise partnerships instead of RDAs.
21. allow councils to keep above-average increases in business rate revenue so that communities which go for growth can reap the benefits and give councils new powers to introduce further discounts on business rates
22. introduce an immediate freeze of, and inquiry into, the Government’s punitive programme of back-dating business rates on ports.
23. we will give the citizens in each of England’s twelve largest cities the chance of having an elected mayor.
24. We will abolish the Government Office for London as part of our plan to devolve more power downwards to the London Boroughs and the Mayor of London.
25. introduce a new ‘open source’ planning system. This will mean that people in each neighbourhood will be able to specify what kind of development they want to see in their area. These neighbourhood plans will be consolidated into a local plan.
26. We will abolish the entire bureaucratic and undemocratic tier of regional planning, including the Regional Spatial Strategies and building targets.
27. Developers will have to pay a tariff to the local authority to compensate the community for loss of amenity and costs of additional infrastructure.
28. Significant local projects, like new housing estates, will have to be designed through a collaborative process that has involved the neighbourhood.
29. abolish the power of planning inspectors to rewrite local plans;
30. amend the ‘Use Classes Order’ so that people can use buildings for any purpose allowed in the local plan;
31. limit appeals against local planning decisions to cases that involve abuse of process or failure to apply the local plan
32. encourage county councils and unitary authorities to compile infrastructure plans
33. give local planning authorities and other public authorities a duty to co-operate with one another
34. allow neighbourhoods to stop the practice of ‘garden grabbing’
35. we will create new local housing trusts to allow communities to grant planning permission for new housing within villages and towns