Headlines: June 30th, 2009

Council leaders have published their own plans for a rebalancing of democracy in favour of voters. The Local Government Association published its manifesto for a new politics as hundreds of councillors met for their annual conference and as the Prime Minister set out his vision for what he called a ‘fairer, stronger and more prosperous society’.

He set out plans for a range of public services with measures including a guarantee to parents that each child would get an individually tailored education and giving more power to local people to keep their neighbourhoods safe. That would include the right to hold the police to account at monthly beat meetings. Mr. Brown also promised to work with the British people to deliver a radical programme of democratic and constitutional reform.

For its part, the LGA has unveiled a number of proposals to give voters more say on how local services are run. They include giving the elected members of local authorities the power to propose national legislation and a guarantee of Parliamentary time to debate such bills. It also wants people to have more choice over what services are delivered locally by giving councils the power to provide any services not reserved by central Government. Councillors, it believes, should also have the right to scrutinise new laws.

Local people, the LGA says, should also get more power over the health service and it wants Parliamentary constituency boundaries more closely linked with local council borders so both MPs and councillors can be more accountable. It wants business rates to be set locally with the income generated by them to be available for local services.

Margaret Eaton, the chairman of the LGA, said: “Britain is facing a crisis of confidence in democracy. Locally elected councils representing the real needs of millions of people can combat plummeting trust in Westminster politics and rebuild faith in the political system.”