Headlines: September 14th, 2006



A think-tank is calling for the reform of local government in England to be shaped by the European Charter on Local Self Government. The Local Government Information Unit has made the recommendation in its latest submission to the Lyons Inquiry and says it wants to see the Charter used as the framework for defining the future.

In its submission the LGIU said that although Britain had signed up to the Charter almost ten years ago, the Government had so far failed to recognise that it was a road map supporting its reforms. Instead it had resisted debate on the subject.

The submission was written by Hilary Kitchin, Policy Officer at the LGIU and she said, “Adopting the principles of the European Charter would give the Lyons Review teeth. We believe the Charter is more hard-edged than Sir Michael realises and could have a dramatic impact on the outcome of his inquiry.”

The LGIU believes the Charter could bring two major benefits. Firstly the potential to provide a framework for compliance that bites on the issues that are of interest to Sir Michael and secondly in offering a clear direction for the reform of local government in England. Sir Michael is understood to be sceptical about the Charter, seeing it as written in general terms and with little influence on policy.

The LGIU wants Sir Michael’s report to include a recommendation that a strong statement of the purpose and status of local government is included in forthcoming local government legislation, in line with Article 2 of the Charter, and it wants a commitment from the Lyons Inquiry to use the Charter as a yardstick to measure its recommendations on over-centralisation. Finally it is urging the adoption of the Charter to test the inquiry’s findings and conclusions on the way local authorities are financed.