LETTER: ‘Power to the people’ in the Localism Bill? I don’t think so

The passage of the new legislation known as the Localism Bill through Parliament may have escaped most people’s attention.

It has already passed its first hearing and will no doubt become law within months.

This Localism Bill is part of David Cameron and the Coalition Government’s much-vaunted Big Society.

Senior ministers are promoting this legislation as a return of “power to the people”.

The Bill, comprising more than 400 pages, claims to give local people more control over planning issues, allows community groups to raise funding and apply to run local services. Really?

Community groups will also be able to raise funds to buy public properties when they come on the open market such as (and I quote) “libraries and pubs”. Eh?

In addition, local folk will be allowed to require local authorities to hold a local referendum on things such as projects requiring major funding. Sounds good eh?

Except for the fact the local authority will be required to acknowledge the result of the referendum, the result is not binding and can be promptly ignored. So that’s all right then!

However, a word of real caution within all of this fanfare.

I have not heard one word being voiced about the nine pages within the Bill outlining the financial penalties or fines which local authorities can incur for breaching EU legislation.

Welcome to serfdom folks!