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Localism Act: what does it mean
for local democracy?
Chris White
Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrat Group,
Local Government Association
‘We have this new way of being
a councillor: in future you will
represent your community to
the council rather than the other
way round.’
Civil servant to a meeting of councillors
in St Albans about 10 years ago
2
Community politics involves:
 listening to people - we should care about
what people think, we should be trying to
work on their behalf to improve their lives
 finding out what issues matter to them. We
can talk to them about these issues – this
increases the chance they will vote for us!
 gathering information
This isn’t about asking people how they vote
Five steps in community politics
1.
Engage with our community
2.
Find out and understand what they
need/want
3.
Campaign to achieve it
4.
Tell them what we’ve done
5.
Remind them (often) of our record
What’s New?
New Legislation from Government will affect councils
•
The Localism Act
•
The Police and Social Responsibility Act Bill
•
The Health and Social Care Bill
Each bill/Act will change the
way we work with
communities and our
partners
Localism Bill 1
The power of general competence
You can do anything you want if the figures add up and it
isn’t illegal for everyone
Opportunities for:
 Council trading commercially
 Council establishing equal partner JVs
 Better ways of using council assets
Localism Bill 2
Abolition of the Standards Board
Clarifying the rules on
predetermination
Councillors can play an active part in local discussions
Directly Elected Mayors
11 referendums in major cities in 2012
Localism Bill 3
Community right to challenge
Great for opposition councillors – community groups, parish councils and staff
the right to express in interest in taking over poorly delivered services.
Probably of little use for big council wide tendered services
Assets of community value (aka ‘community right to buy’)
Great for opposition councillors – community groups, parish councils and staff
the right to express in interest in taking over poorly delivered services.
Probably of little use for big council wide tendered services
BUT
Right to approve or veto excessive council tax rises
Unlikely to be used much as there will be an effective cap which councils will
work to
Localism Bill 4
Neighbourhood Planning – less to this than
meets the eye
Local communities able to develop a neighbourhood
development plan




Triggered by 21 people asking for it but all community being
involved in development of it
There must be some conformity to national and council wide
planning strategies
Local people will vote on it in a referendum
It must then be actively used as the source document by
planning departments and the planning inspectorate
Localism Bill 5
Community Right to Build
Local proposals for building can go ahead subject to a
referendum
Enforcement Powers strengthened and sped up
Community Infrastructure Levy
This will be made more flexible, with some of the money being raised
capable of being spent on things other than infrastructure: and there
will be powers to direct that some of the CIL goes to the neighbourhood
where the development takes place.
How will it affect councillors?
 The Localism Bill will change the way councils and
councillors have to deal with communities
 Good councillors and activists are already plugged into
the communities they represent
 Working with communities, councillors will be able to
challenge the Council to do more for your area
 More work? – Not if we work SMARTER
Chris White
[email protected]
01727 845300
“A plain English guide to the
Localism Bill”
www.communities.gov.uk

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