September 27th, 2016

No deal may see power to people

No deal may see power to people No deal may see power to people
Updated: 9:52 am, May 07, 2015

BOROUGH residents could get more of a say in how Redditch is run as a result of the Scottish rejecting independence.

As part of the deal for voting no, Scotland has been promised greater powers over issues like welfare and taxation, which has prompted calls for the same deal to be offered to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Exactly how power will be devolved throughout England remains to be thrashed out by politicians in Westminster but the Local Government Association has called for a constitutional convention to discuss how city and county councils could be given more powers, including over skills, transport and economic development.

Coun Adrian Hardman, leader of Worcestershire County Council, said he would welcome more control over parts of the health service, to create better links with the social care system, and the ability for Worcestershire to set its own business rates to encourage investment.

But he warned to be successful English devolution would have to go further.

“It will not be enough just to devolve power down to the county council as the top tier authority.

“In a number of places that would be seen as simply replacing Westminster with Worcester.” he said.

“You need to devolve power further to the district and parish councils and ultimately the people of Worcestershire.

“We have seen just by empowering councillors with local roads budgets it’s amazing what can be achieved as opposed to a centralised structure.”

Another option would be to create a new tier of government with a regional assembly in Birmingham responsible for West Midlands-wide issues.

But Coun Hardman said: “I don’t think what people are desperate for is another tier of local government. The idea of a regional assembly is entirely misplaced.”

Coun Bill Hartnett, leader of Redditch Borough Council, said he would welcome more powers and responsibilities as long as it did not mean merging the authority into a larger organisation.

“We have a very centralised government and if they can devolve power then I believe we could deliver services more efficiently and appropriately at a local level.” he added.

“I wouldn’t want to go down the unitary authority or county council route.

“I would want to keep Redditch council as Redditch council with Redditch people voting for Redditch councillors.”

• What do you think? E-mail editor@redditchstandard.co.uk with your view.

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