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I've been reading a thread on HoL about the Localism Act and Neighbourhood Forum.
Embedded in the thread is this - A plain English guide to the Localism Bill - obviously this is now out of date as the Bill is now an Act, but I hope it's still a useful introduction. I've been through it and picked out some bullet points to aid my own understanding. I include them here - you might find them a useful if very sketchy introduction.
A plain English guide to the Localism Bill
“The time has come to disperse power more widely in Britain today.”
[There is a] case for a huge shift in power - from central Whitehall, to local public servants, and from bureaucrats to communities and individuals.
Today, I am proud to be part of a Government putting this vision into practice.
[Proposals] include: new freedoms and flexibilities for local government; new rights and powers for communities and individuals; reform to make the planning system more democratic and more
effective, and reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally.
- • new freedoms and flexibilities for local government
- • new rights and powers for communities and individuals
- • reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective
- • reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally
• new freedoms and flexibilities for local government
General power of competence - It will give local and Fire and Rescue authorities the legal capacity to do anything that an individual can do that is not specifically prohibited; This inverts the present rule where local authorities can only do what they are specifically told they must.
Abolition of the Standards Board – to remove trivial complaints – instead councillors who deliberately withhold or misrepresent a personal interest might face criminal charges
Clarifying the rules on predetermination – so that councillors approach all decisions with an open mind
Directly elected mayors – for cities
The Localism Bill will pass greater powers over housing and regeneration to local democratically elected representatives in London. It will empower the democratically elected Mayor to carry on housing investment activities currently carried out by the Homes and Communities Agency, and the
economic development work done by the London Development Agency
• new rights and powers for communities and individuals
Community right to challenge - The Localism Bill will give voluntary groups, parish councils and local authority employees the right to express an interest in taking over the running of a local authority service.
Community right to buy (assets of community value) - This will help local communities keep
much-loved sites in public use and part of local life.
Local referendums - Local authorities and other public bodies will be required to take the outcome of referendums into account and consider what steps, if any, they will take to
give effect to the result.
Right to approve or veto excessive council tax rises
• reform to make the planning system more democratic and more
Abolition of regional strategies
Neighbourhood planning - Instead of local people being told what to do, the Government thinks that local communities should have genuine opportunities to influence the future of the
places where they live. The Bill will introduce a new right for communities to
draw up a ‘neighbourhood development plan’ through a local parish council or neighbourhood forum
Community right to build
Requirement to consult communities before submitting very large planning applications
Strengthening enforcement rules
Reforming the community infrastructure levy and other local finance considerations
Reform the way local plans are made
Duty to cooperate – across local authority boundaries
Nationally significant infrastructure projects – decisions to be taken by Government Ministers
• reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally
Social housing tenure reform
Social housing allocations reform
Reform of homelessness legislation
Reform of council housing finance
National home swap scheme
Reform of social housing regulation