Headlines: December 12th, 2006



Sir Michael Lyons has taken the first steps in gathering views on the implications for local government of recent reports on planning, transport and skills. Last week, in his pre-budget review, the Chancellor announced a further delay in the publication of the Lyons inquiry report so Sir Michael could look at the three areas, but that move has been criticised for its lack of joined up thinking.

The delay follows the publication of the Eddington report on transport, the Barker review of planning and the Leitch review on skills. It means the inquiry report is now due to be published alongside the Budget next year. The new document calling for views gives people across the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as members of the public, an opportunity to inform Sir Michael’s thinking as he has to consider the conclusions of the three high profile reviews. He will be looking at how the reports’ recommendations can help local government make the most effective contribution to future prosperity.

Responses to the document will be put to a series of expert round-table discussions, which Sir Michael will stage in the New Year before he finalises his own recommendations. “Taken together Eddington, Barker and Leitch provide a wealth of thinking and recommendations on promoting economic prosperity at a sub-national level. I am eager to hear the views of all those with an interest in these issues on how the recommendations can best be implemented to maximise local government’s contribution to economic prosperity,” Sir Michael said.

Meanwhile the Local Government Information Unit has warned that the delay signals a lack of cohesion with local government again left waiting for the Lyons report. Its Chief Executive, Tim Thorogood, said, “The delay and lack integration between the Local Government Bill, Lyons and the Treasury points to a lack of joined up thinking by government on the reform of local government powers, finance and governance. What local government needs and deserves is an integrated approach to its future.”

He added that the future of planning, transport and skills were all core issues for local councils and hoped that after the delay Lyons would join up the big issues and in time make a difference to decisions on planning and spending.