December 3, 2010
boss discusses 'challenges' with PM in Downing Street
District Council's leader has discussed the challenges facing
local authorities with Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit
to Downing Street.
Council Leader Duncan McGinty, pictured on the famous steps of
Number 10, and Chief Executive Kerry Rickards were among a group
of several council bosses invited to brief members of the government's
coalition team on the impacts and challenges facing local councils.
They were given a presentation by MP Grant Shapps, Minister for
Housing and Local Government, who explained the Government's plans
to remove the red tape surrounding local government and thereby
put councils more in control of their own destinies.
Duncan told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It was also made quite
clear that the Local Development Framework and its convoluted
process would cease. The Government will, through the Localism
Bill, replace the LDF with a much simpler 'Local Plan', based
on the existing work of the LDF and without the need for such
an expensive bureaucratic process of government inspection. He
felt that the process of consultation and decision by locally-elected
members was mandate enough for locally-based development plans."
The Number 10 meeting was attended by Eric Pickles (Secretary
of State), Bob Neill (Under Secretary of State), Grant Shapps
and Prime Minister David Cameron.
Pickles said that the Localism Bill will, among other things,
seek to provide for local authorities to retain all locally collected
taxes. This refers to business rates being retained and used within
the area in which they are collected. Currently, all business
rates collected locally are sent to the Treasury for disbursement
through the revenue support grant."
"David Cameron talked about the difficult financial times
in which we are operating and the need for transparency in financial
matters both at Government and Local level. He also acknowledged
that because district councils are the most approachable part
of Government they were likely to receive the brunt of local opinion
during these difficult financial times."
Following the formal part of the reception, there was an opportunity
to speak to members of the Cabinet.
Duncan told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It was a welcome opportunity
to meet the Cabinet members who have a direct influence on Local
Government and have the ability to talk through some of the consequences
that national decisions have on the local service delivery."
"The ability to question Cabinet members on a wide variety
of subjects was unique in my experience. The icing on the cake
for me was David Cameron's recognition of Sedgemoor in Somerset
and the economic development opportunities achieved over recent