Red tape can be slashed by a 'significant reduction' in the number of central government targets and by letting councils set their own local priorities, the Tories' local government manifesto insists.
The party has committed itself to phasing out the use of ring-fenced grants and to scrapping the revaluation of properties for the council tax - a decision it insists will save£100m in administration costs.
In addition to dismissing unelected regional assemblies, the Tories say they will scrap quangos, including regional housing, sports and transport boards.
'Instead, councils will be encouraged, but not instructed, to work together in clusters on matters which cross local authority boundaries.'
Seven counties are vulnerable to a power shift on 5 May, according to LGC's election analysts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher. They anticipate Cumbria, Cheshire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire and Northumberland will be the key battlegrounds. In mayoral contests, North Tyneside's Tory mayor faces a strong Labour challenge.