No doubt there will be lots of frustrations ahead where sound Conservative policies have to be shelved in deference to our Lib Dem allies. But localism should be one area where we should be able to get on with some pretty significant changes.
This following passage is from the Lib Dem manifesto:
Liberal Democrats will:
• Make local government more accountable and responsive to local people by introducing fair votes for local elections in England.
• Reform local taxation. The Council Tax is an unfair tax. Liberal Democrats believe that it should be scrapped and replaced with a fair local tax, based on people’s ability to pay. It is necessary to pilot Local Income Tax to resolve any practical issues of implementation before it can be rolled out nationally, so we would invite councils to put themselves forward to be involved in the piloting phase in the second year of a Parliament.
• Return business rates to councils and base them on site values, as a first step towards the radical decentralisation of taxation and spending powers to local people.
• Review local government finance completely as part of these tax changes, including reviewing the unfair Housing Revenue Account system and the mainstreaming of central grants.
• Give people a say in policing and the NHS with elected police authorities and health boards.
• Scrap nearly £1 billion of central government inspection regimes on local councils.
Of course we don't want PR for local council elections. If we were going to replace the Council Tax with anything I would plump for a Sales Tax – although regular readers will know I am preoccupied with replacing a high Council Tax with a low Council Tax. Scrapping a £1 billion pounds on inspection regimes is rather a modest amount. The LGA says it costs local councils £2.3 billion to send pointless data to Whitehall.
Yet reading the above passages a lot could have come from our manifesto. On localism the Conservatives and the Lib Dems are on the same wavelength.