Most progress is being made by the government with demolishing the architecture of top down control and centralisation that the last government imposed on Councils. This week the Audit Commission was added to the RDAs, the regional housing targets and plans, the Comprehensive Area Assessments and many of the requirements and monitors placed on local government.
The Audit Commission was revealed to spend liberally on itself. It was also urging Councils to go over to fortnightly bin collections, when most of us want to keep the weekly collection – or more frequent – that is common in most of the country.
I am delighted to see the back of this apparatus. It now poses the challenge to Councils to shape better policies for themselves and to be properly answerable to their local electors. The UK has become so overgoverned, with far too many layers of government. The complexity made it difficult to know who was responsible for what, and the presence of so much power in the hands of unelected reigons and quangos could thwart effective accountability if you did find out these intermediate layers were to blame.
It will be cheaper, and easier to understand. Some Councils will thrive with the new freedoms and others will find them difficult to grasp. It will be more worthwhile and more interesting to be a Councillor, as there will be more opportunity to do well- or not so well – for your local community. The system of black marks and gold stars, of constant outside interference, ticking of boxes and comprehensive advice, guidance, audit and regulation stifled innovation and often killed commonsense. Can they be born again in Town Hall and County Hall?