Independent think-tank, the New Local Government Network (NLGN) has called on the Government to guarantee the ability of local government to take key decisions of immediate importance to their communities should referenda result in the introduction of a regional tier of government.
In a submission made this week to the ODPM consultation on the Regions White Paper – Your Region, Your Choice: Revitalising the Regions, NLGN has outlined that it believes the way ahead for governance in England is through recognising the importance of locality and ensuring that local authorities can make decisions directly relevant to local people.
While the think-tank acknowledges that the Local Government Bill currently going through Parliament illustrates a willingness on the part of government to devolve such powers, NLGN’s submission to the consultation states:
“In considering the future shape of local government and its relations with a regional tier, the extension of local freedoms and flexibilities should be paramount. Whatever structures may emerge across the regions, and however diverse they become, the opportunity should be ingrained at the outset for decisions to be taken at the most locally applicable level”.
Acknowledging the need for a body to exist at the strategic level – “a body with some involvement in service delivery and, if feasible, with a degree of accountability” – the submission continues however:
“Above all else, Elected Regional Assemblies must add value
to both service delivery and the processes of democratic engagement”.
Concluding, NLGN offers a warning on the need for true joined up government across all tiers:
“Our concern is with making local, regional and indeed central government work together. It is vital that the Government prevents a situation arising where local government and Elected Regional Assemblies are constantly up against one another, engaged in either open battles or something akin
to a Mexican stand off”.*
All NLGN media enquiries to Ian Parker – 020 7357 0116 / firstname.lastname@example.org
NLGN is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.
*Are we ready for regional Government? is NLGN work in progress built around a survey of senior figures across the full range of public services in the regions considered most likely to opt for a directly elected regional assembly.