‘Bill may cost our councils £5.5m’

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CASH-strapped councils face forking out millions of pounds to meet extra costs linked to the Government’s new Localism Bill, local authority leaders have claimed.

The figures are the result of research carried out by the Local Government Association (LGA), which has raised a number of concerns about the bill currently going through Parliament.

Local authority leaders across Yorkshire and Humber share the association’s concerns and have also welcomed the findings of a Parliamentary Select Committee, which said the Government’s localism agenda as a whole was incoherent and lacked clarity.

Ministers have said the bill will herald a new era of “people power” by giving councils and local communities greater influence over a wide range of issues, including planning and social housing policies.

Coun Peter Box, Wakefield Council leader and vice chair of Local Government Yorkshire and Humber, said: “Local authorities across our region are already working closely with local communities and do not need diktats from central government telling us the best way to deliver services and support people.

“We should be answerable to our communities, not to people based miles away in Whitehall.

“We agree with the LGA that much of what the Government is claiming to be localism is actually the opposite – with ministers in London controlling what communities can or can’t do. Across Yorkshire and Humber, local authorities have a proven track record of working together for the benefit of communities.

“We ask that we are left alone to continue to do this in the way that suits our local people best.”

He added: “The Localism Bill could cost us collectively £5.5 million to administer across the region, roughly the cost of employing 350 more care workers.

“This is money we believe will be better spent delivering valuable services to our local people.”

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