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The lack of an elected strategic authority for London is one of the root causes of bad relations between central an...
The lack of an elected strategic authority for London is one of the root causes of bad relations between central and local government, says ALG chair Toby Harris.

Speaking at a QMW public policy seminar he also criticised the government's white paper response to the select committee report on central/local government relations and said that the government had missed a great opportunity for radical reform to the legal and financial position of local government.

'All the proposals that would make a real difference to the powers and status of local government were rejected,' he said.

Mr Harris condemned the government's rejection in the white paper of the select committee's recommendations on local government finance.

'The select committee's call for an end to universal capping, returning the business rates to local authority control, relaxation of the controls on local authority self-financed expenditure and simplification of the SSA system reads like any local authority leader's Christmas wish list,' he said.

'Recent settlements have extended central government interference so that it now indicates its priorities for spending by local government.

'This level of central interference is not only an affront to local democracy, it is a totally unsustainable way of seeking to run efficient and responsive local services.

'And it is this tension that is at the heart of the problems with central/local government relationship.

'Until greater freedom in this area is granted, there is little hope for a substantial improvement in these relations as the balance is skewed too firmly in favour of central government.'

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