For many of you watching the outcome of the vote in Scotland you would have noticed that Labour party members were there at the count. Labour in Scotland won the great debate for Nationalism. The outcome of the vote will have great significance for the rest of the United Kingdom, with the promise of “Devo-Max”. Labour PPC for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Cllr Mick Lerry, looks at the issues.
“In England there has already been a debate taking place within the Local Government Association, for great freedom for local Councils with the “Rewiring of Public Services” agenda, which is supported by Sedgemoor District Council. Local Government must have greater autonomy and freedom to make decision at a local level. The Labour Party has already recognised this with Hilary Benn MP saying: “that the next Labour Government would devolve all the Business Tax to local Authorities. Labour’s has also pledged to empower Cities and Regions with the necessary finance to boost growth through infrastructure and Training”.
“At the moment the present Government is the largest Education Authority in England and the threat of referendum on Council Tax does not allow for local democracy to deliver services needed for people”
Time for a New Debate
“Some Local Governments such as Somerset County Council follow the dictates of central Government, without careful consideration of the disastrous outcomes. We have heard recently that the present budget of the Somerset County Council is already over spent by 7 million and we are still only 6 months in to the financial year. This is a Local Authority who has refused to increase the Council Tax, which has produced a huge loss in the accumulation of the Council’s revenue income. The Authority also fails to deliver on important services such as Children’s’ Services and Highways. Somerset County Council was even reluctant to declare a major incident when people of Somerset were being flooded”.
“When local Authorities behave in this way this could be a threat to devolution in England. If Local Government is going to take on a stronger local role, then they will have to prove that the Political Leadership is up to the job. Now might be the time for a new debate to end the two-tier system of Local Authorities in Somerset, especially with the advent of greater devolution of powers to a local government level”.
Cllr Mick Lerry – Leader of the Labour Group on Sedgemoor District Council
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset Constituency
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