Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party for Cities, Tariq Ahmad, meets local Conservatives to talk about revitalising Britain's cities.
Local residents will have the power to instigate local referendums, will know more about how town hall money is spent and Southampton City Council will have more powers and funding under a new Conservative blueprint for local democracy.
I was delighted at the proposals to revive local democracy which were recently unveiled by David Cameron in a major policy document. The new policies include:
· Abolishing all regional planning and housing powers in the hands of regional government, returning powers and discretion back to local communities.
· Creating bottom-up incentives for house building, by allowing Southampton to benefit from the increase in council tax revenues from new homes.
· Giving a real incentive for councils to promote local economic growth, by allowing them to keep the uplift in business rate revenues from businesses growing in size.
· Granting Southampton City Council a new discretionary power to give discounts on business rates, allowing them to help local shops and services, such as rural pubs or post offices, or even create new local enterprise zones.
· Making greater use of direct democracy, including allowing Southampton residents to veto high council tax rises, or instigate a council-wide referendum on local issues if 5% of local residents give their backing.
These radical plans will put local people in the driving seat, and cut back interference and meddling by Whitehall bureaucrats. The next election won’t just be about whether to transfer power from Labour to Conservatives. It will also be about whether to transfer power from the central state to local people.