Making local experience count
5th August 2010
James Morris writes about his hopes for the new Parliament for the LGIU Cllr magazine.
These are exciting, albeit, challenging times to be a localist.
Through my work with Localis I articulated what maybe called a ‘pragmatic localism’ which saw the decentralisation of power to local government and communities as critical to more effective delivery of public services, a enhanced sense of democratic accountability and a crucial mechanism for closing the gap between citizens and government at whatever level. This pragmatic localism sees a critical and enhanced role for local government in catering for the needs of their local areas as well as seeing room for communities and groups – often at the street level – in the management of local public services.
There has been a gathering momentum around this agenda. We now have a unique opportunity to convert this momentum into practical reality. The coalition government has already taken decisive action to reverse the creeping regionalisation which had been one of the main features of the previous government’s policy.
The coalition government is also committed to a fundamental review of local government finance. I welcome this because there is a general recognition that the funding of local government is an obstacle to genuine reform. Local government finance is a fiendishly complex beast but we need to find a way of disentangling it so that the system enables both the decentralisation of powers with genuine financial freedom for local government.
I also believe that we need to build on the work done on examining the total level of public spending in areas to drive thinking about the best way of delivering public services locally.