England & Wales

Some light relief amid a busy week for local government

This is a rather busy week for local government. We had the Second Reading of the Localism Bill yesterday (you can see our briefing here) and are expecting the hugely important Health and Social Care Bill tomorrow (which we’ve previously blogged about too). Therefore, I think it might be nice to start today’s round-up with some light relief.

 The BBC had a heart-warming tribute to the late, great Eric Morecombe on over Christmas.  Local government’s very own Eric, Mr Pickles, is doing his namesake proud with his own brand of deadpan northern drollery.  Yesterday’s highlights were a heartfelt tribute to John Prescott (Eric’s “particularly enjoying his current advocacy of insurance on television”), congratulations for the previous government (Eric’s amazed that it “managed to fulfil the wildest dreams of both Sir Humphrey Appleby and Mr Joseph Stalin”) and admiration for Nick Raynsford (Eric’s “sorely tempted to take down one of my pictures of John Wayne and replace it with one of him”). 

 LGA responds to Localism Bill Second Reading LGA Chairman Baroness Margaret Eaton, said: “Councils are looking to the Localism Bill to put residents and councillors in control of their local area by freeing them from the bureaucratic tangle of Whitehall regulation.

“The main thrust of the Bill offers many of the things we’ve been asking for …However, the Bill identifies 142 powers for central government to lay down regulations, issue guidance and otherwise direct how localism will work. We think that threatens to undermine some otherwise positive attempts by Ministers to give people at neighbourhood level greater control over public services and planning.

Cameron outlines vision for modern public services – With the expected publication of the Health and Social Care Bill tomorrow, Prime Minister David Cameron laid out his vision for the complete modernisation of our public services.

In a speech delivered at the RSA in London, the Prime Minister said that he wanted to make the nation’s schools and hospitals among the best in the world, opening them up and making them competitive, more local and more transparent.

“We must champion excellence – and stop the slide against our competitors.

“Like every other western industrialised nation, we won’t sustainably live within our means with unreformed public services and outdated welfare systems.”

Speaking on the Health and Social Care Bill, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, echoed the Prime Minister’s words.

“If we want to deliver better results for patients, we must modernise our NHS and start now,” he said.

Living in the past or Fantasy Island – This post takes a while to get going but offers an interesting dissection, from an auditor’s point of view, of Grant Schapps’ comment that appeared in the Sunday Times –

“If local authorities cut out excessive chief executive pay, share back offices, join forces to procure, and root out wild overspends, they can safeguard key frontline services. Only lazy councils will attempt to use residents to boost their bank balances.”