Local neighbourhoods are to be given direct control of cash that is currently devolved to local councils - as called for only recently on this blog. The idea has actually been around for some years but it has been actioned today by Hazel Blears (see pic), the new communities secretary. Ms Blears – an ex-local councillor herself - set out 10 pilot projects that include Birmingham, Merseyside, Lewisham, Bradford, Salford, Sunderland, Newcastle and Southampton. The story is covered in today's Guardian .
I think this is a great move. Councils are, all too often, slow moving, expensive bureaucracies that are unresponsive to local people’s wishes and needs. I came to the view a while back that one solution is to devolve power down to people in local neighbourhoods and let them make decisions for themselves. Not all my councillor colleagues agree though. Just as turkeys wouldn’t vote for Christmas many councillors see this as a threat to their power base. I’m not sure what Sir Simon Milton’s (the Leader of the national councillor body the Local Government Association) views are but he’s being quoted on this morning’s Today Programme questioning whether there’s a “public appetite” for such a move.