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NEW THINK TANK LAUNCHED TO CHAMPION LOCAL DECISION MAKING

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A new independent think tank dedicated to local government has been launched. Localis will challenge the growing p...
A new independent think tank dedicated to local government has been launched. Localis will challenge the growing powers of national government and unaccountable quangos.

Localis has been set up by three of the UK's leading local government politicians, Lord Hanningfield, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association; Colin Barrow, chairman of the Local Government Improvement and Development Agency and Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest BC.

Membership of Localis will be open to any council and Localis will seek to work actively with a range of partners. It will commission and publish research from local government experts and hold policy workshops and conferences.

Localis will make the case that more decisions should be taken by local communities and that too many decisions are taken at a national level far from where the consequences of those decisions are felt.

Lord Hanningfield, chairman of Localis, said:

'Over the years successive governments of all political persuasions have centralised power. Local communities have lost the ability to make decisions about issues that affect them. Localis will identify areas in which responsibilities, resources and powers could be devolved back to local councils.'

Colin Barrow, co-founder of Localis, commented:

'Governments of all persuasions have sought to control local government by limiting its powers or telling it what to do. We feel that policymakers should look first for local solutions to their questions before prescribing 'one size fits all' policies across the whole country.'

'Local councils have an essential democratic role to play in overseeing the delivery of public services. They must have greater powers to offer choices to local communities. Localis will be the focal point for new thinking about the future of local government and the role it should play in delivering essential public services to local communities.'

Notes

1. Launch Event

The launch of Localis took place at the house of lords, Westminster. Lord Hanningfield delivered a keynote speech. Over 20 councils who have expressed an early interest in the creation of a dedicated local government 'think tank' attended the launch to discuss further the areas of research they would like to see Localis involved in. The councils viewed a presentation of Localis's website, which will provide members with access to expert research papers.

2. Founders of Localis

Three senior local government councillors have founded Localis.

- Lord Hanningfield is vice-chairman of the Local Government Association and leader of Essex CC.

- Colin Barrow is chairman of the Local Government Improvement and Development Agency (IDEA) and a senior member of Suffolk CC.

- Paul Bettison is a member of the executive of the Local Government Association and leader of Bracknell Forest BC.

3. Membership and Activities

Membership of Localis will be open to any council. Localis will seek to work with a wide range of partners and stakeholders. It will commission and publish research from local government experts and hold policy workshops and conferences.

Localis is currently considering three key research proposals for the coming months:

'Out of Touch' - A detailed report into the ways powers and responsibilities can be transferred to local councils from Whitehall and government agencies.

'Re-financing Britain' - A paper on new ways of funding local councils.

'Healthy Communities' - Looking at how local government can work with the healthcare sector, including the NHS.

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