The Liberal Democrat administration has welcomed the Government’s pledges to give greater power and responsibility back to local authorities. The Secretary of State’s policy response to the Place Survey was announced at the LGA conference.
The Ipsos MORI survey confirmed that 85% of Kingston residents are happy with their locality. That is one of the highest levels of satisfaction in the whole of the UK.
Despite such fantastic news on that state of our borough, the Communities Minister admitted his concern about the low public confidence in the capabilities of councils across the country. It has been a long-running Liberal Democrat campaign to enable local authorities, such as Kingston, to better respond to local demands through fairer systems of funding for services and loosen central Government’s grip over local housing, schools and health.
It is a relief that the new Secretary of State has finally admitted to the dysfunctional relationship between central and local government. We just hope that Mr Denham’s LGA statement is more than another case of empty New Labour rhetoric favouring ‘localism’ - followed by a barrage of broken promises.
He should now outline a robust plan for across-the-board devolution of powers and a ripping up of all the perverse systems of negative funding. After all, the best way to let local councils deliver is to let local councils deliver.
John Denham claims he wants ‘stronger councils’. We say the best way to do this is to stop centralised control from people with no connection or concern for the area – the sort of people who confuse Kingston upon Thames with Kingston upon Hull.