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TORIES PROMISE FINANCIAL FREEDOM

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The Conservatives say they will revitalise local democracy by removing tiers of regional bureaucracy and giving cou...
The Conservatives say they will revitalise local democracy by removing tiers of regional bureaucracy and giving councils more control over finances.

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.

Speaking at the launch of the manifesto last Wednesday, shadow secretary of state for local and devolved government affairs Caroline Spelman said: 'The essential task for a Conservative government will be to hand back the powers snatched by regional quangos.

'Instead, councils will be encouraged, but not instructed, to work together in clusters on matters which cross local authority boundaries.'

LGC predicts

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.

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