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Lib Dems promise local voting reform

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The Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce proportional representation for local elections in England if the party remains in government after next year’s general election.

It would also offer ‘devolution on demand’ in England to councils, or groups of councils, allowing them to take a range of legislative powers from Westminster.

In a paper intended to form the basis of the party’s manifesto next year, the Lib Dems also said they would reduce the powers of the Department for Communities & Local Government to “interfere in democratically elected local government”.

Lib Dem members are due to debate the paper at the party’s annual conference in Glasgow next month.

In a foreword, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the party would seek to “return power from the stifling grip of Whitehall to the citizens and communities of our nation, so the next generation have the power to shape the society in which they live”.

Under the Lib Dems’ proposals, the council tax referendum threshold would be scrapped and the party would “explore greater devolution of financial responsibility to English local authorities”.

English local elections would use the single transferable vote, which has been used in Scotland since 2007, and the voting age would be lowered to 16 in all elections.

In Wales, the paper proposes that council election arrangements would become the responsibility of the Welsh Government.

The party has also proposed the imposition of a ‘mansion tax’ on homes worth more than £2m. The tax is intended to help eradicate the structural budget deficit by 2017-18 and reduce the percentage of gross domestic product accounted for by debt.

However, the paper does not outline how the proposed mansion tax would relate to council finances or if the party would create higher council tax bands.

Households that agreed to participate in the Green Deal to improve energy efficiency standards would have their council tax bills reduced.

 

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