Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles on Monday announced the Localism Bill, which is claimed to give people “the freedom to run their lives and neighbourhoods in their own way”.
Pickles (pictured) said the Bill is “the centrepiece of what this Government is trying to do to fundamentally shake up the balance of power in this country. For too long, everything has been controlled from the centre – and look where it’s got us.”
On a background of impending funding cuts, coupled with interdiction to raise council tax, local council and communities will be presented with a range of radical changes when the Bill becomes law this summer.
The main pointers in the Bill affecting people in Lincoln and Lincolnshire are:
Right to veto excessive council tax rises
People will be given the power to approve or veto excessive council tax rises. Any local authority (including police and fire authorities) setting an increase above a ceiling set by the Secretary of State and approved by the House of Commons will trigger a referendum of all registered electors in their area.
Community right to buy and involvement
Councils will keep a list of assets (like post offices, pubs, shops, libraries and leisure centres) and, if they are put up for sale, communities will be given time to raise the money to buy them.
People, councillors and councils will have the power to instigate a local referendum on any local issue. Although these referendums will be non-binding, local authorities and other public authorities will be required to take the outcomes into account in decision making.
Local planning reform
Neighbourhoods will be given the right to permit development in their areas without the need for planning applications. The Bill will also introduce a new requirement for prospective developers to consult local communities before submitting planning applications for very large developments. This means homeowners can build extensions, add a storey or conservatory or build driveways without planning permission.
The Bill will bring in new fixed term council house tenancies for a minimum of two years. Councils will keep their rental income and use it locally to maintain their homes. ocal authorities will have the freedom to decide who should be eligible qualify to go on their housing waiting list. This measure will allow local authorities to set waiting list policies that are appropriate to their local area.