Monday, 7 June 2010

What is localism?

I've blogged before about the lack of understanding among Cornwall Council's Conservatives about what localism means. I am concerned at their centralisation of decision making in Truro and lack of understanding that a lot of decisions are better taken by the communities they affect.

But the central planning mindset of the Tories also extends to Government.

Today we see the news that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is scrapping plans to introduce 'pay as you throw' schemes to charge householders for the amount of rubbish they throw away.

The truth is that Labour wanted to pilot such a scheme but no local councils were prepared to come forward to run the trials.

Instead, the Tories prefer a scheme trialed in Windsor and Maidenhead which rewards residents for the amount they recycle.

The latter scheme is clearly a better and more liberal scheme. But I don't think it should be compulsory for councils to adopt it.

Localism means allowing councils to do what they think is best for residents based on local views and local finances. If councils think that 'pay as you throw' is best locally then they should be allowed to try it and suffer the consequences at the ballot box.

By dictating a 'best option', Mr Pickles is stifling other options such as compulsory recycling or, indeed, the status quo. I would like to see local authorities given the go ahead to try what they think will work and to learn from each other. What is best for Windsor may well not be practical for Cornwall.

Stephen Tall at Lib Dem Voice has written (more eloquently) on this very subject.

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