Often the greatest victims of bureaucracy are those within the system who are absorbed with it every day of their working lives. In other words, the bureaucrats themselves. The huge regulatory burden on local government coming from the European Union will not automatically be removed by Brexit. If anything, the forces of inertia will tend to prevail. After the Second World War we had food rationing and ID cards for years.
So the opportunity is there, but the red tape will not be scrapped automatically. All too frequently the default option may be to continue with all the rules imposed at the behest of Brussels. There is a responsibility here for the “sector” to produce a detailed list of the regulations that should be scrapped or amended.
Of course individual local councils could and should undertake a trawl of all the times their Legal Departments have advised that a common sense approach in a Council’s policy is at odds with EU law. But so should all these networks which are so heavily funded from council subs – London Councils, the Local Government Association, the County Councils Network, the District Councils Network, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities – the list goes on and on.
Vast time and money has gone on lobbying the EU. Council officials and their representatives have turned up as supplicants seeking to ameliorate the worst excesses of some directive or another. Now local government should stand tall. The presumption should be that councils should be able to make their own decisions and manage their own affairs.
Lord Porter, Chairman of the LGA, has already written for this site about the potential for localism being given a boost.
The LGA wants the “£5.3 billion in EU regeneration funding they have been allocated up to 2020″to be maintained. What about a demand that councils should be given freedom over what to spend it on?
Then there are all the ways that the EU has scuppered the housing supply. Let us take Land Disposal Consents. A council disposing of land to a housing association in return for a development obligation faces being at odds with EU procurement regulations since the Roanne case. Often there will be contradictory regulatory requirements.
Disabled residents in my borough have to strip wash for six months waiting for bath adaptions. One reason is the EU procurement rules make the contracting process very cumbersome and bureaucratic. The Council is also very inefficient but the EU membership makes it worse.
Once we have a departure date fixed from the EU let’s also make that the date that as many damaging laws as possible can be repealed.