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LGA CONF: REDWOOD SPELLS OUT TORY POLICY ON REGIONAL GOVERNMENT

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John Redwood, the shadow environment, transport and regions spokesman, today argues that Labour and the European Co...
John Redwood, the shadow environment, transport and regions spokesman, today argues that Labour and the European Commission are working to destroy real local government.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph (p26) Mr Redwood says ministers are persuading some of our most senior councillors to spend less time exercising real power and influence at county hall or town hall, and more time trying to create a regional political community largely doing the bidding of Brussels and Whitehall.

'As councillors meet in Harrogate, they should all, regardless of party, be alarmed by the rapid erosion of their duties and powers.

'Far from pushing more things down for decision by local communities, this government is busy pushing them up to central government under the guise of regionalism.'

He continues: 'The Conservative message to councils is: help us resist this new invasion of your turf. We are desgining policies that will mark a decisive shidt of power away from the arms of Whitehall to both local councils and local communities.

'There are many things that regional government now does that would be best not done, and many other things that could be done better by councils.'

He says the regional offices of government should be disbanded. 'Councils should be given greater freedom to spend a block grant on their local priorities. They should have right of direct access to senior officials and ministers.

'If we choose to have proper local government rather than regions, then the grants will have to go to councils, which are better placed to lead our communities and make decisions.'

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