Today sees the publication of Control Shift (now downloadable as a pdf file), the Conservative Party's long-awaited green paper on local government and local democracy. It will be launched in Coventry later by David Cameron and Caroline Spelman, the shadow secretary of state for communities, local government and the regions (although it should be noted that all the spade work on this project was done by her predecessor in that role, Eric Pickles).
David Cameron has written in this morning's Guardian about the plans, which he describes as "a fundamental shift [of power] to local people and local institutions" and a "radical decentralisation, to reach every corner of the country".
The main planks of the proposals are:
Giving more power to people over their local authorities
- The 12 largest cities outside London will also be given the chance to vote for an elected mayor;
- The police will be made accountable through directly elected police commissioners;
- Power for people to instigate referendums on local issues;
- Requiring councils to publish detailed information on expenditure by local councils – including the pay and perks of senior staff;
- Repealing the "pre-determination" rules that prevent councillors from standing up for their constituents’ views on local issues.
Removing a tier of regional government and devolving powers back to local councils
- Abolition of all regional planning and housing powers exercised by regional government;
- Giving councils the power to establish their own local enterprise partnerships to take over the economic development functions of the Regional Development Agencies;
- Scrapping the Government's new Infrastructure Planning Commission, which it intends to use to force through Heathrow expansion.