Truly local government has been lost over decades of bureaucracy and centralisation which have taken powers away from local communities and isolated the electorate from their representatives. Boroughs and counties based around historical geographical communities were morphed into large unitary authorities which were little more than crude administrative divisions. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the regional devolved assemblies have sucked power away from local councils and created inefficient monoliths such as Police Scotland. We want to restore effective and empowered local government to give communities a real say in how they are governed.
Restore Truly Local Government
We would bring back single-member wards for local elections across the UK, ensuring that representation is truly local, and not lost amongst large, multi-member wards.
One Person, One Vote
The complex STV voting system used in local elections in parts of the country is undemocratic, lacks transparency and leads to huge numbers of wasted votes. We would restore a simple and accountable system: one person, one vote, one cross in a box.
Restore Local Police Services
We would replace monolithic and poorly performing services like Police Scotland by organising police services along local and accountable lines like they used to be.
Restore Local Fire & Rescue Services
Fire & Rescue services have suffered the same problems as police services brought about by over-centralisation. We would restore much needed local services across the country.
Local Tax & Planning Powers
We would restore to local councils the ability to set their own business rates, council tax and decide on local planning, in addition to restored competencies over policing and fire and rescue. These proposals would increase their control over their budget from under 15% to over 40%, allowing for accountable local government without overbearing control from the centre.
Historical Counties & Boroughs
We would restore the historical counties and boroughs as far as possible as units of local governance to replace unitary authorities, metropolitan boroughs and other arrangements, which are overly-large and artificially created for bureaucratic purposes. By contrast, historical counties and boroughs encourage both small scale local governance and civic pride.
In scrapping bureaucratic unitary authorities and reforming counties as a unit of local governance, we would institute a County Assembly for each county where councillors can gather and vote in these empowered local government institutions. This would bring serious decision making much closer to the people than quasi-national devolved assemblies such as Holyrood.
Local Governance Within Cities
Huge bureaucratic city administrations like the Greater London Authority and other combined authorities have swallowed up what were once distinct local communities within cities. We would restore the autonomy of boroughs within cities and limit combined authorities to inner cities (in the example of London, to the old metropolitan boroughs and the City of London itself).
Local Pride and Tourism
We would grant new powers and financial resources to councils to promote their own area both for the purposes of civic pride and building an effective tourist brand. Britain’s remarkable geographical and cultural diversity is something that should be promoted.
Keep Local Elections About Local Issues
To prevent governing parties abusing council elections by holding them at or near the date of parliamentary elections, causing local issues to be lost amidst national debate, we would ensure that local elections and parliamentary elections cannot be held within six months of each other.