Published: December 3, 2010
Council boss discusses 'challenges' with PM in Downing Street

Sedgemoor 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 "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.

"Eric 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 "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 years."


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