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Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has today(March 29th) unveiled new powers for councils to hold Government to account and make sure requests from their local communities to remove unnecessary regulations are properly considered


In plans for new measures under the Sustainable Communities Act, Mr Clark has set out a new simple process by which councils can directly ask Whitehall to remove barriers that can block local people from improving their communities. Previously, councils had to jump through hoops and stick to rigid timetables before any barriers were taken seriously. The new process is direct and straightforward - saving council officials precious time and the taxpayer thousands of pounds in administrative costs.

Last year, Mr Clark set out an 'action plan' to respond to proposals already submitted under the Act. He also said that the Government was "open for business" to bust barriers, and that councils could submit requests as soon as they come to light, without having to navigate deadlines or wait for bottlenecks to clear. Because the timetable will be rolling, proposals can be considered more quickly.

The changes have also increased transparency as councils are now able to discuss their proposals directly with Whitehall. Everyone can see the progress being made online, as well as reasons for the Government's decision on whether to implement suggestions. Today's announcement means the Local Government Association will have the power to challenge a decision if a particular council isn't happy with an outcome. Where there is a challenge, the Government will have to consult the Local Government Association before issuing the final decision.

The new system enables councils to submit ideas via a dedicated 'barrier busting' website and follow the progress of their suggestions online. People who use the service (external link) are given a unique Amazon-style tracking number to monitor requests and a named 'barrier buster' assigned to each case.

Greg Clark said:

"I've been hugely inspired by the Sustainable Communities Act. Its ethos - giving local taxpayers a bigger say in how their money is spent, and helping councils challenge central government to cut red tape - is absolutely in line with what we're seeking to do in the Localism Bill.

"I want to turbo-charge the Sustainable Communities Act. We're getting rid of the bureaucracy so that it's easier than ever for people with bright ideas for improving local life to ask for central government's assistance.

"Our barrier busting website is open for business, ready and waiting to sweep away the obstacles and help local people do things their way."

Source: DCLG

Written by Scott Buckler
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 14:02

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