The publication today of Control Shift, the Conservatives Green paper for local government, has already been given an excellent summary by Jonathan Isaby on ToryDiary and been generally welcomed by most of you who have commented so far. There is a lot there for us to look at here in more detail in days ahead.
My initial reaction is that this will mean localism will be a reality under the next Conservative Government not merely rhetoric. The proposed decentralisation of power is radical. Giving Councils a reward for attracting new business by allowing Councils to keep the extra revenue in business rates is one example. Directly elected police commissioners is another.
We will all have plenty to chew over in the specifics. Hurrah for the proposed abolition of the Government Office for London. Two cheers for scaling down the Regional Development Agencies but why not just get rid of them. Despite my admiration for Boris Johnson, I’m pretty sceptical about directly elected mayors.
But the best news is the proposal to "give residents the power to veto high council taxes via local referendum." In 1978 Proposition 13 was passed in California part of the "taxpayer revolt" that saw the election of Ronald Reagan to the White House two years later. The lower taxes that resulted caused California to outperform the rest of the United States in economic growth.