Magazine article Public Finance

Unholy Trinity

Magazine article Public Finance

Unholy Trinity

Article excerpt

Bad luck comes in threes, they say. It certainly looked that way for local government this week.

Monday brought the long-awaited planning white paper, which will set up an independent commission to make decisions free from the inconvenience of having to listen to local residents. Critics immediately denounced it as a charter for gagging local communities'.

On Tuesday the draft Local Transport Bill was published, empowering town halls to set up road-pricing schemes. Devolution in action? Well, perhaps not. Cynics argue it's a way of councils carry the can for a policy that - almost 2 million signatures on a Downing Street petition later - ministers know is deeply unpopular.

Meanwhile, Wednesday brought the energy white paper, which is widely believed to be paving the way for a new generation of nuclear power stations. These are guaranteed to bring people in affected communities on to the streets in protest. Unfortunately, councils facing a Sellafield in their own backyard will be powerless to act thanks to - keep up - Monday's white paper.

These various proposals bring one question to mind - what has happened to the government's stated support for localism? Taken together they suggest, at best, a pick tí mix attitude towards it within government. …

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