NALC responds to England devolution proposals
Responding to the command paper 'Implications of Devolution for England' presented to Parliament by the First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons, National Association of Local Councils (NALC) chairman, Cllr Ken Browse said: "Today's command paper on the implications of devolution for England is a welcome step forward in giving more power to local people and putting communities in control of their areas.
"It is only right that people in the UK should have a bigger say over their affairs, especially at the most local level, where in England parish and town councils are a tried and tested governance model which gives people a democratic voice and structure for taking action on local issues.
"While I recognise the paper is not cross party and does not include proposals from Labour, I am heartened by some of the ideas put forward by the two Coalition parties which build upon their programme of decentralisation to date, in particular continuing to empower neighbourhoods and parishes, a vital component of any new constitutional settlement.
All communities in England – indeed the whole of the UK – should have statutory grassroots councils. NALC is calling for a radical programme over the course of the next Parliament to see parish councils established in unparished areas to address democratic inequity of only 40% of the country benefiting from local democracy.
"However I am concerned by plans for greater use of direct democracy such as local referendums on local issues, a clear indication that local government is not trusted to use their democratic mandate and closeness to their communities to take local decisions to improve their areas.
"I look forward to discussing the proposals in more detail with the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties and would strongly encourage parish councils to get involved in this important debate which will shape our democracy for generations to come."