Posted tagged ‘localism bill’

New Year, New Predictions

January 3, 2012

But will we even remember to turn the months over?

Happy New Year!

2011 was a pretty momentous year for those of us working in the public sector with cuts, strikes, riots, redundancies, rising demand for our services and a surrounding narrative that pitted those who work in the public services against those who use those services.

For those of us working in local government this led to panic, defensiveness, stress, pressure, innovation, decisiveness and a lot of hard work. And despite everything I really believe we enter 2012 in a stronger position than we entered 2011.

This time round we know what the cuts will be, most of us are well versed in the attitudes of the coalition government and the vast majority of councils have set themselves a realistic plan for meeting the budget pressures placed upon us.

So with that in mind, what do we think will be the five top story lines facing local government in 2012?

1)      The cuts

As I’ve mentioned before many authorities took the easy way out for their cuts in 2011/12. A few bits of low hanging fruit here, some small marginal redundancies there, a little bit of money from reserves and a few budgetary adjustments and most of us got through relatively unscathed. The plans for 2012/13 are severe in contrast. The low hanging fruit has gone and really tough decisions need to be made. Funnily enough, it’s not the decision making I’m worried about but the deliverability of these cuts. Making staff redundant is one thing but cuts to social care, education provision, housing or any other service that is demand led are very hard to accurately predict, especially as the budgetary pressures elsewhere in the economy come home to roost. The big question for local government is ‘are we able to deliver the budget cuts we promised in 2012.’ It’s a mighty big ask and a challenge for us all.

2)      Housing

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This post is not binding

September 23, 2011

If it's non binding can I vote twice?

We at WLLG towers really like localism.

Thus, when we heard that the localism bill would include a new provision around local government polls and referendums we were tentatively quite pleased. In fact so excited were we that one of my colleagues dug up the briefing paper prepared by the auspicious House of Commons library no less.

Up and down the land excited WLLG authors opened up the paper and were greeted with a very positive first line:

The Localism Bill 2010-12 contains provisions which would enable residents to trigger a local referendum by petition. Additionally, local councillors will be able to request a referendum in their local area (subject to approval by council resolution) or the authority itself may resolve to hold a referendum on a local issue.

It’s a good start and whilst it is important for any provision to show a balance between direct and representative democracy the fact that councillors are going to be involved might help balance that.

Besides, we’ve only just read the first line of the document and the experts of the House of Commons library are sure to have provided some further details as to how this delicate balance might be achieved.

So let’s read on. Line 2 of the library research note:

 A local authority will not be bound by the result of a referendum

WHAT?!?! Sorry, have I misread something? Let’s try again:

A local authority will NOT be bound by the result of a referendum

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Throwing away localism?

June 15, 2011

An excuse to show my favourite bit of graffiti

Unless you’ve been buried under the nation’s burgeoning mountain of waste, which apparently is spilling over from landfills to cover our streets and will continue to do so unless it’s disposed of weekly, you will have heard that the government have made a bit of a u-turn when it comes to the issue of weekly bin collections.

Eric Pickles has been championing the case for weekly bin collections for years now, and decided that there was no way he was going to sit back and allow local authorities to decide for themselves how often the rubbish should be collected in their areas.  After all, they can’t possibly know what local people really want or how much better weekly collections would be, so he issued something of an announcement to say that it would be so: weekly bin collections for all.

The thing is, nobody managed to explain to him that this might cost a few quid.  In fact, it might cost around £140million, or about 7927ish experienced staff nurses (I’ve always wanted to find an opportunity to describe things in this way, ever since local government “waste” started being described in such terms). (more…)

Localism and baseball

December 20, 2010

Localism for the wealthy: low taxes and short hours

One of my stranger afflictions is an interest in baseball; described by many British people as glorified rounders.

Baseball is a summer sport in the USA and therefore the winter months are spent speculating over where the best players will end up playing next year. This year the best of the bunch was a pitcher by the name of Cliff Lee. In cricketing terms he is Mitchell Johnson, left handed and very good. However, baseball is not cricket and Mr Lee was being offered a lot of money to play baseball for the next 5-7 years.

During the negotiations the press had no idea where he would sign but with column inches to fill started to speculate on all sorts of factors that might influence his decision. One rather interesting theory caught my attention. The theory was that Mr Lee would end up in Texas rather than signing with the New York Yankees due to the lower income tax rates in Texas.

I’m not much of an expert on American State government but given that Hilary Clinton was the Senator for New York and George W Bush the Governor of Texas it is fair to take a shot that Texas is a slightly more conservative place that believes in low taxes and limited Government and that New York prefers a slightly more extensive Government and higher taxes. It is also not a great jump to guess that the voters of these states have voted consistently for politicians who share their beliefs and that the stance of the respective governments of each State is directly reflective of the wishes of the electorate.

Now, that is localism!

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