Proposer: Vicky Seddon
Seconder: Peter Davidson
The deals the Chancellor of the Exchequer is doing with combined authorities and local leaders, hailed by him as devolution to localities, are a poor reflection on the state of our democracy in 21C. They show that all the fine words that have been spoken on democracy in this anniversary year of the Magna Carta cannot hide the basic lack of respect for, and unwillingness to listen to, the voice of the people.
Instead of implementing the recommendations of the (now abolished ) Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform, to strengthen local authorities including giving them some fiscal powers, these are deals which change the local governance landscape, by agreements which will depend on legislation not yet agreed by parliament, through negotiations done in secret, mostly without any consultation with those who live in those areas, and with different powers agreed in different places. They impose a particular form of governance without reference to the voters and which in many cases was rejected by them in the 2012 referendums, albeit for smaller governance areas.
This whole process does nothing to bring local democracy closer to the people, and re-inforces the need for a Constitutional Convention, including both civil society and politicians, to find agreed ways of reforming our hollowed out local systems of democracy. Only an open and inclusive approach will be able to deliver the robust, effective, accountable and transparent system of local governance that is needed to re-invigorate local communities.
UD will support the call for such a convention, drawing on the experience gained in the Southampton/Sheffield experimental processes, needed in order to gain the consensus for a lasting constitutional change
The motion passed.