Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dan Hannan talks about Localism

On Friday Southampton University was host to Dan Hannan MEP. Over 40 people came along to hear Dan speak about 'The Plan', his new book which he co-authored with Douglas Carswell MP.

The Plan is a radical and thought provoking read which sets out a vision of a more democratic Britain. It builds upon an earlier book, Direct Democracy where Dan and colleagues from the 2005 intake of Conservative MPs present their localist agenda.

As a local councillor and a prospective member of Parliament I am fully behind a more local decentralised approach to politics. This means more decisions being taken by Parliament and indeed by local councils. Over the past 10 years more and more decisions have been taken away from our directly accountable institutions and passed to an ever growing list of quangos.

It also frustrates me that in Southampton we get such a rough deal from the government. Southampton pays more into the government pot than we get back and we receive far less in funding than similar cities in the north of England. As I mentioned in a posting just recently, our council tenants also receive a raw deal. You would imagine that the rents they pay would all be kept locally but in fact about 10% of the rents for the whole city is appropriated by the government. This works out at over £300 a property next year. I think a more local system of financing for local services would be a much fairer and more accountable approach.

Also speaking at the event was Tim Aker of the Tax Payers Alliance. I had a chance to speak with Tim earlier in the day in my capacity as the council cabinet member for finance and explained how underfunding from the government effects Southampton. I went into more detail last week in an interview with the Daily Echo. It was also interesting to hear Tim's views on what local councils can do to save money and become more efficient.

In all it was a hugely successful event and I am grateful for all the hard work by the Southampton University Conservative Association in organising the talk. Dan said a few some kind words about the work we are doing locally in Southampton and we are looking forward to helping with the campaign for the Euro Elections in June.

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