At this month’s Executive meeting of Kingston Council, members approved an important report outlining a vision of greater localism for the Royal Borough and its residents -- with decision making, budgets and services freed from the stranglehold of top-down micro-management and centralising government bureaucracy.
The national debates on localism and the Big Society are catching up with the innovation practiced in Liberal Democrat Kingston for decades.
In 1994, we introduced the Neighbourhood structure to the Council, bringing local involvement right into the heart of decision making. The current Once Council project is successfully streamlining services and making them more responsive to local needs; care budgets are personalised and our local voluntary sector is vibrant and integrated with Council services.
“This report expands on these excellent foundations and embraces the localism agenda of the new, national Government. Finally, both local and central government have their eyes and hearts set on local responses to local needs – improving public services in the best interests of our residents and communities.
Included in the report, titled ‘One Kingston’ was:
1. Details of the ‘Place based budgets and Local Integration of Services’ pilot for Norbiton. The ward is only one of four areas in the country approved for an exciting, experimental programme devolving budgetary decisions on a wide range of public services.
2. Plans to expand the One Council project for Kingston. The report emphasised the priority of “organising everything we do around the needs of our residents, rather than [the Council’s] internal convenience”. It also outlined further details of the role of commissioning to ensure tight public resources are used to best effect, for instance helping build capacity for service provision in the local business and voluntary sectors.
3. Embracing and getting involved with the localism agenda of the Coalition Government – including the national plan to ‘liberate’ the NHS from strict and unnecessary regulation, as well as structures such as Primary Care Trusts