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'GOVERNMENT HAS KEPT DEVOLUTION PROMISES'

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Local government minister Phil Woolas has insisted the government has made good on its devolution rhetoric by legis...
Local government minister Phil Woolas has insisted the government has made good on its devolution rhetoric by legislating for stronger councils.

The Local Government & Public Involvement in Health Bill, published today, builds on the principles set out in the local government white paper to strengthen council leadership.

The bill contains few surprises, giving leaders more power and

permitting the creation of unitaries. It also sanction elections of the whole council once every four years, the adoption of single member wards and the establishment of parishes.

Involvement in the NHS will increase with a new duty to make 'contractual arrangements' for health scrutiny. The bill places a legal duty on councils and service providers including primary care trusts to co-operate.

Mr Woolas said: 'Some people might think there are things not in the bill that were in the white paper. But the bill takes forward the bits of the white paper that need legislation.'

Local Government Association chairman Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said the bill was encouraging. 'It takes steps on local leadership, deregulation and cutting red tape'.

On devolution, there must be certainty over the next three months, Lord Bruce-Lockhart said. 'We need to see the full extent of the powers in transport, planning, housing, skills, welfare, and economic development which are actually going to be devolved from regional and national government to councils. This, together with the ability for councils to retain more of the taxes already raised locally, will turn the rhetoric of devolution into reality.'

Full LGA statement

DCLG press release

Policy & politics

Corporate services

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