The White Paper Communities in Control was published in July 2008. The overall aim is to pass power into the hands of local communities, to generate vibrant local democracy in every part of the country and to give real control over local decisions and services to a wider pool of active citizens.
These reforms require widespread changes in policy and practice by the whole range of public sector agencies, and most do not require legislation. For those proposals where legislation is required, the major provisions are included in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which is currently before Parliament. They include the proposed new duty on local authorities to promote democracy, measures to boost the role of petitions in local democracy, an extended duty on public authorities to secure the involvement of persons in their functions, steps to strengthen local authority overview and scrutiny procedures, provisions on local freedoms and honorary titles, and changes to Widdicombe rules on politically restricted posts in local authorities.
Given the scope of this Session's Bill, we have decided not to publish further draft provisions on empowerment for pre-legislative scrutiny during the current Session. We will discuss with key stakeholders how best to take forward any remaining proposals where legislation may be required. In particular, we will consider our response to the recent consultation Changing Council Governance Arrangements, which raised issues on elected mayors, and will discuss with the National Association of Local Councils how best to take forward proposed reforms to parish governance. We do not currently propose to take forward a number of more minor proposals, namely on remote attendance and voting by councillors, payments for councillors on loss of office, and incentives to vote in local elections.
Substantial progress has been made over the past nine months on major commitments from Communities in Control. We plan to publish a communities progress report soon.