Limits to localism

 

            The government’s big idea is localism. It is said to underlie their approach to planning, to education, to health and to local government. Properly done it can save us money by abolishing government at the centre. If implemented it would mean that the whole country is not cursed with the same centrally imposed mistakes. It still leaves scope for local mistakes. That should make Council elections more interesting and more worthwhile.

             Shadow Ministers usually believe in more localism. Ministers often end up taking more central powers. Ministers  have in  past governments  grown frustrated with the response of Councils, standing in the way of their wider vision. The public usually says it likes the idea of localism, but then puts up a barrage of complaints to Ministers and MPs if their area has less than the next or  makes mistakes the neighbours do not experience.To many localism in  health is a good idea. The postcode lottery over service standards which results is a bad idea.

            When we argued about these matters in opposition Shadow Ministers assured us they understood and would not intervene in local matters, even where they thought they were going wrong. Intellectually they grasped it. If government trusts local Councils and other public bodies to make decisions, it has to stand back if they do it badly. Local communities have to be told their redress is to sack the local accountable officials, not seek Ministerial interference.

             In practice this is all proving difficult for Ministers. In the case of planning many are worried that the planning policy is too pro developers and does not offer sufficient protection for greenfields. The official response says that the government is abolishing central targets demanding more building. Councils can settle these matters, and protect what they wish in their local plans. Fine. Why then did Inspectors overturn a local decision in my area recently, as the Council has a local plan and the local decision both reflected it and was popular with the public? If localism is to work Inspectors have to back off in such cases.

           In education there is little sign of localism working. A group in my area proposed a free school. They, and Councillors, asked me for details of how the scheme would work. The Education department  was unable to answer their sensible questions. However, the scheme was clearly centrally driven and required considerable paperwork to be submitted to the Secretary of State who takes the decision about whether to let this school go ahead or not.

             The local authority decided to review the catchment area of a popular school. After a long and difficult consultation process with plenty of opinions being expressed they came to a final decision. The Secretary of State then decided to overturn their decision when reviewing it, without himself coming to see the situation on the ground or even consulting the local Council Leader. If a Council cannot even decide school catchments, what can they decide?

              Localism requires revolution in Whitehall. It will only be delivered if the bureacratic armies currently overseeing and interfering are stood down and if vast swathes of regulation are cut down. If the government does not wish to do this, then it should tell us, and set out its central vision. Then we could turn our attention to cutting back the local bureaucracies instead.

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54 Comments

  1. Javelin
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Government spending and fiscal control is a delicate balance often going back decades of delicate negotiations. This is true in Europe as well. The smallest change results in large ripples.

    So how are Eurobonds going to work exactly?

  2. lifelogic
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    You say “Local communities have to be told their redress is to sack the local accountable officials” but once again they only get a vote on a huge basket of issues and many with always voting for the same old parties that they have done all their lives. Many constituencies are safe one way or the other and will never change and the prospectus voted for is rarely delivered anyway.

    The democracy is so weak that it allows councils to get away with appalling “service”, huge over staffing and much over paying of staff with consequential huge council tax bills. The democratic control is largely a mirage as usual.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Also absurd employment laws and convention in the local authorities prevent them getting rid of people as needed – other than with a big pay off of public money.

      • Bazman
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        When you have got rid of everyone who is going to do the work? The usual script is to run short staffed and flog the ones left telling them that there in no skill or work involved in their job. Way are we here then? Being the obvious reply. Which would be met with “Just get on with it” More reliance on desperate people which is your plan even if you do not realise that.
        The large pays off’s probably have little to do with employment laws as not many of the dinner ladies or bin men see these golden goodbyes, so what does that tell you?

        Reply: the public sector can work smarter with fewer people, as I know from my own involvement in public sector management. It’s not a question of making people do more, but using people’s time and skills more effectively.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          Indeed using about half the number of people and “using people’s time and skills more effectively” as you say JR. Also getting rid completely of the government activity that is totally pointless, propaganda, vote buying or damaging (which is quite a high proportion). Simplifying legal and command structures, easy hire and fire and the rest. Not being hooked on false gods like “free at the point of use” or so called “renewable” energy.

          • Bazman
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

            What are you going to charge for and who is going to pay? A simple question.

  3. Martin
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    What you fail to point out is that the biggest obstacle to growth are Nimbys. “Localism” as the government calls it just makes it easier for the Nimbys.

    The Nimbys are media savy, know the local press/radio/TV. They present their opposition to any development with angles such as local children/pensioners will be eaten alive etc. with lots of negative adjectives. Any jobs/wealth created is always ignored.

    You will doubtless find that local authority plans will be set up with no new developments allowed allied to conservation of unwanted buildings (greatly loved except when paying for them).

    What incentive is their for any councillor (even MPs ) to support any development when they will be portrayed as being on a par with a mass murderer by the media?

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      There is much truth in this. Also the EU rules on Bats, Great Crested Newt and other similar nature/environmental concerns are usually brought in to any battle regardless of merit at great cost to the developer.

      What chance has a job creating business got against the poor humble Bat or Newt?

    • outsider
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Nimby is just a centralised planners’ boo word for ordinary people sticking up for their own interests. Most people are perfectly capable of distinguishing between a good and bad development.
      In my locality we have a nuclear power station and I think a local referendum would strongly favour a new one – we need the jobs. But the local townsfolk are against a big new Tesco just outside town at the opposite side to the existing shops. Makes sense. If the Tesco were better sited most people (except the smaller rival supermarket) would probably welcome it.

      We proud Nimbys – ie most normal people – think we can help to make development better, not stop it. By the way, would you favour a nuclear power station a mile from your home or is it just OTHER people who are Nimbys?

  4. Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Eduction is in a horrific mess.

    As someone was at the heart of the academic analysis behind the Thatcher reforms I knew the second Gove opened his mouth that he had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

    I’ve been to many high level consultations since this government came into power. Typically there’ve been 150 highly experienced and educated people there developing sensible ideas which make best policy advances using emerging technologies and one person who looks like a student on work experience and clearly doesn’t have the experience to follow what’s going.

    They stand up an make a speech which is so ludicrously naive no-one even asks any questions because they know that person won’t understand the question. Then that person goes of and writes Gove’s education policy which contains nothing whatsoever of what’s been discussed.

    At ACME conference an MP actually clearly said that policy was being written for the ordinary people because the professional communities had completely failed. And indeed that is what’s happened. At one consultation I ended up crying through most of it because it was so ignorant there wasn’t even any point in asking intelligent questions.

    For more information see the Top Trumps thread in the UK education group on linkedin.com

    To work localism needs a coherent and intelligent structure. What’s happening in education is sheer vandalism. Freedom in education is not to do with a free market or the random hacking apart of structures and systems by those who don’t understand them. It is to do with good, properly consulted policy and, far and away the most importantly, the modernisation of Ofsted described here:
    http://mathseducationandallthat.blogspot.com/2011/08/ofsted-part-2-journey-to-heart-of.html

    • Richard
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Sorry to disagree, but as the parents of children we have had to educate privately, at great extra cost and sacrifice to ourselves, due to the poor standard of state education offered by you professional education experts, I am a big supporter of Mr Gove and his attempts to encourage the setting up of new free schools.

      Anything which releases schools from the deadhand of LEA’s and Council control and instead provides additional choice, as well as a free school responsive to local people who are treated as valued customers ,is fine by me.

      • Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Everyone supports Gove’s espoused aims Richard.

        Anyone who understands the management of education knows that what’s actually happening will not achieve those aims and will, in many aspects, achieve quite the opposite.

        They can also clearly see the unintended consequences.

        You expect policy to at least vaguely achieve what it is intended to achieve but if you shut down consultation with the people who understand the systems it will not.

        • disaffected
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          We need a three tiered arrangement like Germany: a school for high achievers, one for ordinary pupils and another for the disruptive elements of society who have every kind of syndrome (excuse) which disrupts the other 29 children in the class. Each school designed to meet the needs of the children.

          Schools start at 8am and finish at 1pm. you do not hear that pupils are running a mock after school through ASB and so forth because their parents are absent and still in work.

          Unfortunately, Rebecca, liberal socialism has failed to educate our children in state education at huge cost to the taxpayer. Disruptive students, under 16yrs, even get exit cards so they can and have a cigarette!!! LEAs inside councils are a job creation scheme, too many back room staff, these should be sacked to create additional posts for teachers and TAs to reduce class sizes.

          Gove has changed the label not the product. He has also passed the buck if anything goes wrong.

          • Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

            So disaffected. You have a 16-year-old in your top set maths class who has an awful life and self-medicates with nicotene to hold themselves together.

            In briefing you (the teacher) are reminded that it is your duty to ensure that students do not smoke.

            At break you see that child sneaking off for a fag. You are teaching them after break. You know by experience that if that child does not get their cigarette they will not cope with the lesson and will kick off and attack another child and get excluded (you’ve seen it several times before). This time it will be a long exclusion because it’s happened before.

            Interventions to stop the child smoking have failed because the stresses at home are so extreme they always go back to it.

            However if you ignore the child and let them get their fag they will survive your lesson and not get excluded and will probably go on to get an A at GCSE maths. Also the lesson will not be trashed for the rest of the students because you are dealing with the fight/assualt.

            What do you do?

            Liberal socialism does not educate our children.
            Teachers do.

            LAs are ripe for reform.
            However Gove does not have the insight or experience to carry out constructive reform.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        So you believe that education offered by people who aren’t professional education experts will somehow be better? As free schools don’t need professional teachers expect the standard of education to be greatly reduced.

        • Richard
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          It is now costing almost the same to educate a child in the state system as in private schools, the difference is the outcomes, which are very different.
          I appreciate your political outlook and mine are different and in a democracy I respect that, but to my mind the evidence is on my side.
          eg all new “Gove”schools are sold out some over subscribed many times over.
          We perhaps have the same wishes, ie that State education should be great for all children, but plainly despite decades of efforts and throwing huge extra sums of money at it, there hasn’t been a real change for the better.
          I like the educational vouchers idea,with parents able to freely choose where to send their children.
          Good schools expanding and poorer one either improving or closing.
          I presume this is something you also would dislike on principle.

          • Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

            Richard,

            Why should it cost more to educate a child who turns up a school well prepared and rested for the day, has a wide and high quality extra-curricular and parental input and is in a class of similar students who are pleasure to teach, compared with educating a child who turns up at school having been up all night (big bother kicked the doors off their hinges again and the police were out), has not stabilising force in their life and has been knocked about and abused by adults who are not coping with life themselves and cannot intellectually engaged with lessons due to being overtired, poorly nourished, having low self-esteem and being stuck in self-destructive cycles and being in a class with many other students who are in a similar state of mind and are therefore making the lesson less coherent?

            I’m really interested to try and understand your logic.

            All the historical and research evidence shows that lack of coherence in local planning leads to rapidly developing and seriously pernicious sink schools of the kind which have been prevented over recent years due to the redistribution of LA money (from popular schools which are full and therefore are efficient per capita) to community schools which may not be full but are still efficient provided there is a small degree of intervention funding and ‘excellence cluster’ funding which has targetted school in danger of becoming sink schools to specifically ensure they retain proper top sets so there isn’t a total flight of the able kids.

            What makes you think that this serious sink school effect won’t happen? There’s been no consultation to understand this dynamic or planning to prevent it. Those who are promoting the idea the schools should be ‘allowed to die’ don’t have credible insight into the realities of what that means on the ground. Have you seen any costing of the effect of a community losing its school which serves so many purposes and all the students having to be transported elsewhere and the evening classes relocated and so on? These are the kinds of defences you need if you want your arguments to sound credible.

            You say there is no real chance of improvement in education but you have not given any specific criticism of my proposals for reform to Ofsted. I would be grateful if you did.
            http://mathseducationandallthat.blogspot.com/2011/08/ofsted-part-3-cultures-of-inspection.html

            The other great opportunity for improvements in education come from our taking advantage of emerging technologies, in particular those supported by broadband communication which is still such a recent technology in schools and is far from reaching its potential. I’m happy to brief people on aspects of the potential which is yet to be achieved and the efficiencies and improvements in quality it will bring. Our government could be working effectively to support the improvements which are being proposed rather than totally ignoring the experts and gazing at its own navel.

            You like the education vouchers system but do you properly understand the principles and thinking which underpin it? Did you meet the guy who conceived it? Did you talk with him about the holistic infrastructure of education which the government clearly doesn’t understand? Did you understand his strong and repeated message that all change should be deeply understanding of it’s current context, it’s history and the reasons for the status quo? If you did speak up. I will recognise the quality of your insights because I did know him and I have explored these issues in great depth at many times throughout my life. If you’re not so confident I suggest you read this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Education-State-Study-Political-Economy/dp/0865971358/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316277889&sr=8-1
            which is an easy to read introduction.

          • APL
            Posted September 20, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

            Richard: “that State education should be great for all children”:

            First error. State schools are not run for the benefit of the pupils, but the teaching unions.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          The phrase “professional education experts” fills me with concern and makes me think that the fewer “professional education experts” around the better it will be.

          • Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

            In particular it is essential all those horrendous think tank bodies full of experts with no experience whatsoever in the area of society they are supposed to have expertise in are shut down now.

            Let’s start with ‘The Policy Exchange’ and ‘Reform’.

    • Robbo
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Fail.
      The Thatcher reforms themselves failed.
      The Blair reforms failed.
      Sooner or later it had to be recognised that the model of letting bureaucracy stifle education cannot work out well, and alternatives must be tried.
      Gove’s fails are: 1) Not to allow profit-making schools, 2) Not to allow free schools to be free to choose their admissions (marketing) policy, and 3) Not to kill PFI completely.

      Of these it is 1 which he will rue most in years to come. When you have dividend-declaring schools quoted on the Stock Exchange, they don’t have to actually ‘fail’ to be improved, they just have to be less good than they might be, and either their current owners will improve them, or others will buy the owners out in order to benefit from the improvement.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Profit making schools do exist, they’re called private schools.

        • forthurst
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          Our best private schools are Charitable Trusts; they have no shareholders. Very many schools have been set up in the past for no other reason than the desire of parents and benefactors that there should be good schools for local children to attend.

          • Robbo
            Posted September 18, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

            Exactly. Charitable trusts often run very good schools, but their in-built risk-aversion prevents them undertaking the bold expansion necessary to transform the sector.

          • Posted September 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

            Hmm Robbo,

            er what bold expansion would that be then?

            The one where private schools which provide an exceptional education to well supported kids from functional background decide that their model will apply brilliantly to classes full of kids who arrive at school shattered, poorly nourished and with massive emotional and social issues?

            In competition with the community schools where the teachers know generations of the family and care for individuals personally and have substantial experience in what it takes to teach these kids in classes of 30 – causing those schools to spiral into financial crises as they rapidly lose numbers.

            Cameron’s model?

            Hmm, yes you could suggest they are risk averse or you you might suggest that they are not completely and utterly stupid.

      • Posted September 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for prompting me to expand on the issues of the contrast between 1980s policy and what Gove is doing now.

        The point of those reforms was to stave of an economic collapse of the kind which then happened in Russia and the Soviet bloc. Whether or not you agree that that was a necessary or valid objective or that it was worth the cost is not relevant to my argument.

        My argument is, instead, that at the heart and genesis of those reforms were deeply intelligent people who understood the perspectives of and respected those who opposed them.

        When you get to the heart of Gove’s reform there is no-one like that. Instead you find a pro-active media campaign to spin those who are capable of pointing out that the the details of policies will not deliver what Gove says they will deliver as being self interested pressure groups. It’s terrifying and heartbreaking to watch.

        If you disagree and think that there is such a person involved in these policies (who can defend them properly to those, like me, have detailed concerns) please name them. I’ve tried to list the people who are behind them on the Top Trumps thread in the UK Education Group on linkedin.com. It’s an open group so if you’re on linkedin you’ll be able to check what I’ve written without joining the group.

        • Richard
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

          I think you have to realise that Mr Gove has simply by-passed the education establishment and at last given power direct to us peasants.

          Power to the people!

          • Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

            What makes you a peasant that excludes me being one Richard?

            If you can’t see that the only person Gove has given power to is himself you’re clearly a blind peasant.

            Or perhaps a blind pheasant. Who’s about to get run over by a car.

        • Robbo
          Posted September 18, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          Lets think about this. A 66 year-long experiment of education run by bureaucrats – sorry – “deeply intelligent people” has delivered failure on an epic scale. But you think we should carry on doing the same. My view is that we should allow shallow, even greedy, people to try and make a better fist of it. They will find it hard to do worse.

          • Posted September 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

            Shallow, greedy people suffering from a massive dose of hubris who have no experience in education whatsoever, who have not raised chidren and have not consulted any of their policies with the people who understand their implications Robbo.

            Personally I’ve been through horrifically ignorant interventions and a botched academyisation under the last government. I understand why it would be hard for people to conceive quite how much worse this lot.

  5. me
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Once again UKIP leads where the Tories must follow.

    Binding local referendums now.

  6. Richard
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    If local democracy was strong then localism might prosper, but to give you an example; inner city Birmingham where the majority of money the Council received in many of their wards, came from Government grants and the business rates paid by local companies.
    Businesses, despite paying large sums to the Council did not have a vote.
    And when you looked at the eligible voters, large number paid no Council taxes as they were on benefits partly or totally. Turnout at elections was often 20-30 per cent.
    Not a good recipe for representative Local Government.

    If you looked at UK PLC as a company, I think most Company Directors would conclude that for the size of the business, there are far too many local branches, far too many decisions are made at local branch level and there is no consistent overall strategy nationwide.
    There are far too many employees, far too many managers, far too much duplication of roles at local and central levels and very poor control of costs.

    You might also have to conclude that UK PLC is losing so much money and has such huge debts you would have to seriously consider putting the business into administration.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Perhaps only those who pay council tax should have the right to vote?

    • forthurst
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      “If you looked at UK PLC as a company, I think most Company Directors would conclude that for the size of the business, there are far too many local branches,”

      You might on the other hand concluded that there were too many congenital idiots and subversive elements at HO for the company to survive without a strong independent branch network.

  7. Bazman
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    This can work the other way. In a deprived area I know well, a millionaire has opened a wildlife park and invested a lot of money in it as a local attraction. Very good it is too. Much of it on land not suitable for building or industry due to previous mine workings and its hilly nature. He has been fought every step of the way by the council and his latest expansion plans mainly involving parking due to its popularity, have been rejected. It is now gone to a national level and he should win as he could just easily wrap the whole thing up.

  8. Alex
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, please keep at it; Localism is important. It will take years to undo what the public have been trained to believe; that the national government, and only the national government, can fix every perceived problem. It is how the public thinks, it is how the press thinks, it is (of course) how the BBC thinks. But it can be changed.
    As I’m sure you know, Nordic countries, widely regarded as successes, in many ways have less centralisation of power than the UK.

  9. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    “European Localism” as branded in the Conservative Party is a good idea to promote in the EU, especially at a time that there is a movement towards more integration in the eurozone. The two don’t need to conflict, but help to ensure that integration only takes place where necessary and that subsidiarity is practiced more strictly and more often.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Peter,
      I sense you are getting a little nervous at the prospect of fiscal union being thrust upon you.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        I’ve always been an enthusiastic proponent of subsidiarity, but thanks for your concern anyway.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          Peter,
          You must be very disappointed with the EU if you are a proponent of subsidiarity and, as you now see, there is worse coming your way!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Oh yes, I remember John Major talking about the great step forward he’d achieved by getting the principle of subsidiarity enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty, part of that “game, set and match for Britain” … unfortunately the experience of the subsequent two decades has been that the paramount principle of “ever closer union” has invariably taken precedence over the principle of subsidiarity – as of course it must, being paramount, and as it always will even if subsidiarity is re-branded as “European localism”.

      • APL
        Posted September 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Denis Cooper: ” .. principle of subsidiarity ..”

        Oh yes. The idea that one is allowed to do things the way one wishes … unless it conflicts with the will of the master.

        Servitude in fact.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    What we need is minimal government whether that is national, local or, even worse, at EU level. Each tier of government is good at two things only – increasing bureaucracy and building their own empires. As for our democracy, it has become an endangered species. This is partly as a result of these burgeoning levels of government but more because of the lack of trust with politicians. The move to subject the peoples of the Eurozone to a fiscal union encouraged by our own government shows the direction of travel. This is the next step towards a United States of Europe which political leaders have always denied was their intention. Dare I suggest that political parties are a major part of the problem? If we had more independently minded MPs and councillors, without party affiliations, then we would have representatives who put the interests of the country and their towns and villages ahead of their party.

  11. Jonathan
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I assume you are talking about Maiden Erlegh here. The issue was that the decision they made favoured residents of Wokingham Borough at the expense of residents of Reading Borough, and people in Reading had no way to influence the decision through the ballot box. That is where localism can fail.

    • Pauline Jorgensen
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      That is not accurate at all Jonathan…

      If you read the inspectors report he said it was ‘reasonable for the council to increase the size of [the school’s] designated area in the way it did’; that the new designated area was ‘constructed objectively’ and formed a ‘coherent geographical area’; and that journey to school times and safe walking routes were properly considered.

      I have concluded that the determined admission arrangements are fair in several respects. I do not accept the objections relating to discrimination by social group, ethnic group or by local authority of residence. Neither do I accept the objections relating to the use of straight line radial distance rather than walking distance. I have also concluded that the newly defined designated area, which has been enlarged with the aim of providing a place in a suitable designated secondary school for all designated area residents, meets the requirements of the code.

  12. Str0ngh0ldBarricades
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I am somewhat taken aback by your surprise at this entanglement.

    It is in the best interests of these Whitehall mandarins not to cede the power and control, because without it their possible whole raison d’etre disappears and with it their employment prospects

    Too many vested interests, and too much reliance upon the state forced by the last administration.

    • Martyn
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      I have long felt that the mandarins who write the Law in response to a new or amended EU diktat spend a great deal of time and money in gold-plating it to the extent that Parliament puts it through without fully appreciating the consequences. I do not mean to be unfair to those MP’s who attend scrutiny committees, but whereas France for example takes a 12-page EU ruling and turns it into their own 15-page version, leaving out the bits they don’t like, our mandarins turn the same 12 pages into 50 or 60 pages covering every item in great detail, full of traps for the unwary.
      And that, I suspect, is the prime cause of so much discontent with EU law as interpreted by our mandarin society in furthering their own existence and importance.

  13. Nick
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    And how do you protect minorities against the equivalent of Derrek Hatton?

    After all, it would cost a fortune to move house to another area to avoid fiscal nightmares, because you penalise people who have to move with huge taxes.

  14. forthurst
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    The main objection to localism would be that it stood in the way of social engineering. As much of our public administration is solely predicated by the needs for implementing social engineering policies, it seems hardly surprising that Whitehall, which is substantially infested with those subversive elements determined to pervert the reasonable desires of the English people for the future of their own country, would relinquish the reins of power without a struggle.

  15. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    The “Free Schools” are a take over of County Council Authority (offering rubbish advice actually) by the Department for Education, London, which is even worse.Why? It takes months (honestly) to get any form of decision out of them and they have absolutely no idea of where Wisbech is except that it is north of Watford.

    Meanwhile our GCSE pass rate has decreased at the County Comprehensive from 27 to 23% and our pass at the Bacc is now an unbelievable 1%. This means, in effect, that anyone who goes to the local Comprehensive has zero chance of any decent University if they stay in Wisbech. The promised Sixth Form was simply cancelled for no reason leaving the new Headmaster so angry that he resigned after just a few months in post. Etc Etc.
    I could go on.

    So it does not surprise me at all that you were disappointed of a free school.

    So much for decentralisation. The paperwork for our free school took a professional (honestly, I was there) two months of hard labour. We are still waiting……..

  16. Horatio McSherry
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Here, here! An excellent post.

  17. David Hope
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    I think for me, the problem with local government is it seems to be responsible to the government that pays it as much as the local taxpayer. It also often gives the impression that it lacks transparency and often acts in a petty and corrupt way.
    I’m in favour of localism but perhaps it needs something like the elected mayoral route in biggish areas (more county level than town so as to be encompass a decent mix of people) and with a switch to a local income tax replacing all council and a fair bit of national income tax.
    Serious powers would make people take note and hold councils better to account. Further it’d allow poorer areas to make themselves more competitive by charging lower rates which might do far more to boost northern economies than any amount of central handouts and initiatives.

  18. LER Campaign Team
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi John,

    You are aware that the issue of localism has become very apparent in our local community. That being Earley and Lower Earley in the borough of Wokingham. As you know Wokingham Borough Councils determined schools admission arrangements, relating to Maiden Erlegh School, was overturned by Michael Gove following a recommendation by the schools adjudicator. What has outraged most members of our community is the way in which central government has intervened without any prior knowledge of the problems arising. For most, if our council had been found to be at fault, we would have accepted the decision. However, the schools adjudicator found Wokingham Borough Council to have been completely thorough throughout the consultation process. Wokingham Borough Council worked closely with their residents to provide a solution to a long overdue problem. They also worked hard at keeping all other stakeholders in the affected areas informed and involved in the process. The campaign team are overwhelmed at the response we have received from within our community. Our campaign has a very clear objective and that is to ensure that local decisions are made at local level. We fully support your actions to pursue this with Michael Gove.

    The Campaign Team, L E Residents

  19. Oops
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    TO THE MODERATOR
    ===============

    I just posted a comment under my real name and if possible, could you change it to a Psuedonym. You can use “Dave, Lower Earley”.

    Thanks

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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