23 April 2004
Local government leaders are to press ministers to implement the greater freedoms for councils that they have been promised.
The Local Government Association is to take up members' concerns with ministers. This follows a review of the government's progress in meeting its commitments to give authorities a range of freedoms and flexibilities, which identified major areas of stalemate.
In November 2002, the government set out a package of freedoms it intended to grant authorities after the first round of Comprehensive Performance Assessments were published.
While some of these, such as the prudential borrowing regime, have been introduced according to the original timetable, implementation of others has fallen behind schedule.
In particular, councils are anxious about the government's failure to lay the necessary order before Parliament to give those deemed to be high-performing the power to trade in services.
Another major area of concern is the apparent lack of progress in removing 84 consent regime powers, which should have been completed this month, and reducing the number of plans that councils have to submit to Whitehall.
A document that was due to be approved by the LGA's executive committee on April 22 makes the organisation's frustration plain.
'The LGA will need to keep a watching brief to ensure implementation of all that has been promised,' it says.
Councils will draw some comfort from the announcement by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on April 19 that they no longer have to submit asset management plans and capital strategies for approval.