Eric Pickles' feisty approach to local government will take another step this week when he unveils his localism bill. The draft legislation will require councils to publish limits on management pay. He cannot impose a direct cap but he can impose transparency.
Pickles is concerned that 129 town hall executives earn more than £142,500; the Prime Minister's salary.
Mary Orton of the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives told The Observer that if the PM's salary was to be used as a guide she wondered about the free "add-ons" he received: "Most ordinary mortals have to pay for housing costs after tax. He gets two houses for free."
According to The Sunday Telegraph the bill will also see the end of Regional Development Agencies and moves to give twelve major cities directly-elected mayors. The cities are set to be:
Decentralisation minister Greg Clark previews the new power for neighbourhoods to take control of planning in their area. They will be able to decide the boundaries of their locality and then by local referenda choose a code for local building. Once this code was established residents would have freedom to add extra storeys to their homes or conservatories, loft conversions, front driveways and wind turbines.
Dr Clark comments:
"This Government has ambitious proposals to make the [planning] system fit to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Above all, we want to change the philosophy behind local planning. We want to move away from a system with significant elements of imposition from above, to one with participation and involvement at its heart – not just warm words, or a commitment in principle, but real opportunities for people to have a say. We also want to move away from a system that seeks to resolve the different needs of different groups at a local level by imposing choices from above, towards one which enables a mature debate at local level."