Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Weekend Read: Localism in Action locally and nationally - details on City Deals, Local Growth Deals, Devolution, the LA7 and more

Since 2010, the Coalition Government has undertaken the most radical programme of decentralisation within England in a generation. There are now five combined authorities, including our LA7 in the North East, 15 directly elected local authority mayors and plans for a Metro Mayor to be elected for Greater Manchester in 2017 - as enthusiastically endorsed by a Labour led Greater Manchester Council.

The Localism Act has moved significant powers away from Westminster to local areas and neighbourhoods.  It introduced local referendums on Council tax levels, the right for local communities to list local assets of value to the community and to take over local services where local people believed they could be run better. It also devolved planning functions from councils to local communities through the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans, approved by the local community in a referendum.

Almost 1,400 communities are now engaged at different stages of the neighbourhood planning process, giving millions of people the chance to participate in identifying, and voting on, where development takes place and what it looks like.

All 49 referendums held to date have resulted in substantial yes votes and these plans have significant weight in planning decisions. We expect the first 40 plans to reach examination to provide in the region of 10,000 new homes, as well as shaping their character and location.

This is local people going to meetings and taking part in decisions about their street or village which are then put into action. Rolled out further this will represent a quiet revolution in how planning decisions are made.

Local Growth deals are revolutionising the way our economy is run.  For the first time ever, infrastructure, housing, and other funding has been brought together, and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses to invest with their knowledge of what is needed in their area to maximise their potential economic growth.

This month the Government invested a further £1 billion in local growth deals on top of the extra £6 billion announced last year –

These deals are helping ensure young people receive training, creating thousands of new jobs, building thousands of new homes and involving hundreds of infrastructure projects; including transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.