Magazine article Public Finance

Beyond Blears

Magazine article Public Finance

Beyond Blears

Article excerpt

It was unfortunate timing, to say the least The decision by the communities and local government secretary to resign one day ahead of the council and European elections breached parliamentary protocol and certainly added afrisson to what was an extraordinary week in politics.

Unfortunately for Hazel Blears, her political epitaphs will not dwell for long on the radical changes that she has effected in local government. These were few and far between.

She did help to negotiate the Concordat between central and local government and has been a passionate advocate of community empowerment.

As Tony Travers told Public Finance this week (see page 6), the former minister has a Tigger-like quality that has endeared her to the public and, particularly, her Salford constituents.

But she has not been able to address many of the problems that have beset local government such as the unfairness of council funding and the sidelining of town halls. As recently as last month, her much-vaunted draft Community Empowerment Bill was abandoned and repackaged by the government

In her defence, Blears has been hampered by a I .abour leadership willing to talk the talk on localism, but unwilling to devolve power to elected local councillors. …

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