Conservatives promise new freedoms for councils and communities

Councils and communities would have significantly increased powers to determine public spending and local priorities under a future Conservative government, the Tories said today.

In a policy paper on local government, the Conservatives proposed a number of measures designed to devolve power from central to local government, but also better enable communities to hold councils to account.

Specific measures include:-

  • Giving councils a new general power of competence to act in the best interests of their communities, which the Tories claim would remove legal restrictions on authorities.
  • Abolishing the comprehensive area assessment inspection system that will be introduced in April 2009 and cutting back on inspections.
  • Scrapping the capping of council tax levels. However, instead communities will be able to veto tax rises above a national threshold through local referendums.
  • Phase out the ring-fencing of central government funding for councils.

Tory leader David Cameron said the reforms would replace an “overpowering state” with an “empowering state”.

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