Local authority leaders should take up places on the new House of Commons Regional Committees as a step towards a big change in the way regional decision making is scrutinised. The call has come from the New Local Government Network, which has set out a number of measures it wants to see as the debate on the Government’s Sub-regional Review continues.
NLGN has published “The Age of Regions? Rethinking governance in England”, which has brought together leading figures in the debate in a series of essays that offer first reactions to the review as well as detailing the hopes an concerns of local and regional communities.
Contributors include former Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford, Labour MP Alison Seabeck and the Liberal democrat member Andrew Stunell as well as London mayor Ken Livingstone, Councillor Mick Henry from Gateshead, Sir Richard Leese and Howard Bernstein from Manchester and Conservative Peer Lord Hanningfield from Essex.
In the report, Chris Leslie, the Director of the NGLN, says, “The changes at Whitehall and Parliamentary level are important. But equal and balancing changes are now needed to galvanise local authority leaders into stronger ownership of the regional stage.”
As the debate went on, he said, he would be looking for a number of measures including co-opting local authority leaders onto the Regional Committees of Parliament because this could create a fusion between national and local elected representatives which would revolutionise the way regional decision-making was overseen. He also called for flexibility for council leaders to determine their own regional forum, statements from the new Regional Ministers on their ambitions and approach to the role and a decision on the budgets that would be devolved to any new sub-regional, city-region or ‘Multi Area Agreement’ groupings.