The Queen’s Speech today included the announcement of a "Local Democracy Bill." It sounds as though it will be nothing of the kind. Real local democracy is about leaving decisions with elected local councillors, if they make bad decisions then they face being voted out. What this Bill is about is imposing more directives from Whitehall.
Councils will have to set up "Economic Prosperity Boards". What if a Council decides that prosperity is not best created by "economic boards"? Their wishes will be disregarded in the name of "local democracy."
Councils will have a legal duty to respond to petitions in a manner Whitehall deems appropriate. Normally councillors will take seriously any petitions we get without having to be directed to by Hazel Blears. But what if a councillor regards a petition as utterly bonkers? Will he have a "legal duty" to respond other than saying: "I regard your demand as bonkers. I have binned your petition. If you don’t like it vote for someone else next time."
Council will have to show Whitehall that Council tenants are "central" to housing decisions. What makes Council tenants central to housing decisions is their opportunity to vote out their local councillors – not whatever bogus consultation exercise Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has dreamt up.
What terrible Orwellian newspeak the Government’s definition of local democracy is. With their Party having been rejected at the ballot box in local elections they seek to impose yet more imperial diktats from Hazel Blears.