The new Government is set to finish off the last vestiges of unelected Regional Assemblies, handing power back to local councils and saving the taxpayer up to £16m a year. The last Government made an empty promise to axe Regional Assemblies.
In fact in April, Assemblies re-emerged, stealthy re-branded as Local Authority Leader Boards. Like Assemblies, these Boards wrested powers on transport, housing and planning powers away from local councils. This is one of a number of spending promises made since the new year that the Coalition Government has reviewed.
The main function of the eight Boards that exist across the country is to oversee regional control. However, ministers are committed to scrapping the complex and confusing regime of Regional Spatial Strategies meaning Local Authority Leader Boards are also redundant.
Ministers have put plans in places to move swiftly to dismantle the funding and powers of Local Authority Leaders Boards leaving councils free to organise themselves and work together as they choose. As well as cutting off the hefty annual budget, the decision will save local taxpayers money too as Boards also received funding from local councils – more than £10 million last year.
This will see local authorities put firmly back in the driving seat when it comes to making decisions. Local people will know that the people they elected are responsible for delivering the services and provision they want for their area and will be able to hold local leaders to account if things fall short without them passing the buck.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says:
“This is another step in wresting control from the bureaucrats, stopping the top down diktats and axing unelected, ineffective quangos.
“The previous government created a self-perpetuating stream of regional bureaucracy where plans required strategies that require boards and bodies.
“We are unravelling this complex system, putting the community back in charge of how their area develops and saving the public purse £16m at the same time.”