One of the reasons why Eric Pickles has been so radical as Communities Secretary could be that when it comes to localism the Lib Dems are not acting as a drag but pressing him to go further.
The motion they passed on localism included the following section:
Moving towards financial autonomy for local government – Central government control of local government finance has been the mechanism through which detailed Whitehall management of local government has been imposed. We set ourselves the long-term target of achieving 75% of local government spending being raised locally, with provision for equalisation. We call for the immediate return of business rates to local government, for a transparent annual process of negotiation between representatives of local authorities and the Treasury on the allocation of central funding to local government, and for the coalition government to adopt as a priority the transfer of other revenue streams to local authority control.
Liberal Democrat Minister for Communities and Local Government Andrew Stunell says:
“Localism is in the Liberal Democrats’ DNA, and today we have once again demonstrated our commitment to putting power back in the hands of people on the ground, not bureaucrats in Whitehall.
“Different communities have different needs – what works in Windsor won’t necessarily work in Warrington, and this principle will be central to the forthcoming Localism and Decentralisation Bill.
“For too long, local government has been run in a command and control fashion from Whitehall. What Liberal Democrats in government are doing now is setting councils free from top-down diktats and allowing local people to have a real say in local decisions.”