UK local leaders call for Queen’s Speech devolution deal

28 Apr 15

Council leaders across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have come together to urge whichever party wins the general election to set out a plan to devolve power across the country in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

In a joint statement, leaders of the local government umbrella organisations across the four nations said urgent action was needed from the next government to revive local democracy.

The statement was signed by Local Government Association chair David Sparks, Welsh Local Government Association deputy leader Aaron Shotton, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities president David O’Neill and Northern Ireland Local Government Association president Dermot Curran.

It called for the next government to adopt three guiding principles for a devolution drive – subsidiarity, fiscal devolution, and enshrining the statutory position of local government in law.

These should inform legislation in the first Queen’s Speech to devolve powers to Scotland, Wales, and within England.

In the statement, the leaders said strong local democracy and empowered communities would be a force for good.

‘As we approach the election of a new Parliament, the time for talking has ended. The new government will be given the responsibility of defining a new settlement for the communities of the United Kingdom. We have the opportunity to shape history and strengthen our nation.’

They highlighted that both the coalition government’s Cabinet committee looking at English votes for English laws and the Smith Commission examining further devolution to Scotland called for a major shift in power to local areas.
‘We are very clear that it is time to move away from an expensive, centralised approach which means that governments in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh or London try to second guess what is best for localities,’ the signatories said.

‘Any settlement which does not extend beyond Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont will not be sustainable.’

 

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