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The baton now passes to councils to help the government push through the bill that will overhaul local government....
The baton now passes to councils to help the government push through the bill that will overhaul local government.

Local government minister Nick Raynsford told delegates at this year's CIPFA conference in Brighton councils can drive through reform over the coming weeks.

On the day the draft bill for local government was published last Wednesday, Mr Raynsford urged councils to get involved in the 10-week consultation period.

He said the draft bill was a 'very big step forward' and the views of councils were 'important' to the government.

Although unable to reveal when the bill would reach Parliament, Mr Raynsford urged councils to take an active role now.

He said: 'We are keen that the momentum for reform is not lost. This consultation will help maintain momentum.

'The views of those who are affected by legislation are important to us. We are serious in our intention to give greater freedom to local authorities. It is only a draft bill but at last it is coming.'

'At its best local government is superb', he added, and said by working together local and central government can ensure excellence becomes 'standard'.

The long-awaited draft bill paves the

way for substantial new freedoms for

councils to help them improve services and make a difference to their local communities and citizens.

It takes forward the legislative aspects of December's local government white paper, Strong local leadership - quality public services.

It includes giving councils the freedom to borrow money for major building projects and powers to set up schemes with businesses to improve their area, introduce rate reductions for small businesses and to set council tax in a different way.

The draft bill only refers to England but when the final bill is published it will also include Wales. The consultation ends on 23 August.

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