Yesterday I heard an inspirational speech from a member of the Shadow Cabinet. Yes, honest, I did. Don’t stop reading. I am not fibbing. Central office did not ask me to write this.
When I went to hear Caroline Spelman talk about the future of local and regional government in England I did not expect she would blow my socks off with her vision. But she did, in her gentle, understated way.
Listening to her, I saw in my minds eye the democratic cavalry massing on the hill. She wishes to sweep them down onto the battlefield after a General Election victory , to remove bureaucracy, waste, and hated regionalism. Just listen to this:
Unelected Regional assemblies – abolish
Select Committees for the English regions – abolish
Regional housing quangos – abolish
Regional planning quangos – abolish
Regional spatial strategies and housing targets – abolish
Targets and surveillance of Councils by Whitehall and regional government – abolish
Many of the specific grants – abolish – to be replaced by general grant
Council Tax capping – abolish
What would happen if a Council performed badly? The electors have to sort it out by voting for a change. What would happen if a Council wished to put the tax up too much? They would need to win a vote to do it.
Brilliant Caroline. We will save billions by sweeping away this hated regional bureaucracy and the panoply of regulations, guidance, controls and checks national government imposes on Councils.