This week saw the Liberal Democrat autumn conference in Liverpool. Policy issues covered included localism and Defra’s white paper on the natural environment
The Liberal Democrats continued their support for decentralisation of government in a bid to empower local communities.
Liberal Democrat Minister for Communities and Local Government Andrew Stunell said: “For too long, local government has been run in a command and control fashion from Whitehall. What Liberal Democrats in government are doing now is setting councils free from top-down diktats and allowing local people to have a real say in local decisions.”
He said localism was “in the Liberal Democrats’ DNA” and that the party had once again demonstrated its “commitment to putting power back in the hands of people on the ground, not bureaucrats in Whitehall.”
Defra White Paper
The secretary of state for the environment Caroline Spelman hasn’t impressed the Green Party with her planned 40 per cent cuts to Defra.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader and MP for Brighton, slammed the Liberal Democrats’ shift on new nuclear power and reiterated her disapproval of plans to scrap the Sustainable Development Commission and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
Green deputy party leader Adrian Ramsay commented: “I think it’s clear, this is no green government.”
What the press is saying
Over on the Planning Blog, Domenic Donatantonio says that, having talked to a lot of lawyers recently, “the Decentralisation and Localism Bill is likely to be the biggest thing on the Parliamentary agenda next year.”
He says: “The power to retain long-term local tax revenues would clearly be a step forward and test the coalition government’s commitment to practical localism.”
Much of the wording over the Infrastructure Planning Commission’s role in the Planning Act 2008 will not apply, leaving “the prospect of an uneasy truce for the consultation and evaluation process of major schemes.”