Lincoln council leader behind local freedom charter

The City of Lincoln Council Leader Ric Metcalfe would back a decision to sign up to a modern charter that would see more powers given to local authorities.

A Modern Charter for Local Freedom is due to be launched at the Core Cities Devolution Summit in Glasgow on February 9.

The first constitutional freedoms for England were set out in the Magna Carta in 1215 which created the foundations of modern parliamentary democracy.

One of the aims now is to shift the balance of power from a national level to local people who know the areas in which they live in greater detail.

This would include three freedoms:

  • Freedom to decide: independence, but not one size fits all
  • Freedom to invest: prosperous places, not stagnant states
  • Freedom to deliver: better services, improved lives

The charter also calls on government to give places that want to take ownership of services and decisions the power to do so, including locally-tailored skills and jobs, long-term transport funds, freedom to decide how housing funds are spent, the chance to join up services to deliver better outcomes and to take responsibility for policing into locally determined governance structures.

A Modern Charter for Local Freedom calls on devolving ‘whole-place budgets’ for public spending across different services and agencies where they can show they can deliver and improve results.

Local government and local agencies that sign-up to the charter will commit to:

  • Create stronger local economies, more growth and jobs, more people into work
  • Invest more in housing, transport and other infrastructure
  • Radically improve local services and service choice, transforming results
  • Devolve decision making even further down to communities, neighbourhoods and individuals

Councillor Ric Metcalfe said: “As we approach the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta it’s appropriate to set the debate about freedom in the modern context of the important relationship between central and local government.

“In 2015 in Britain we still have one of the most centralised states in the world and urgently need to address the need to restore local democracy, give a meaningful role to local government, and recreate strong democratic accountability between local people and their elected representatives.

“For far too long, participation in local council elections has been falling because voters rightly perceive that it is central government dictating to local government what the council’s priorities should be.”