Brighton MP praises Localism Bill

Posted On 19 Jan 2011 at 11:58 am

Brighton Kemptown Conservative MP Simon Kirby has spoken up in favour of the Localism Bill which passed its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday.

He said that the bill would save Brighton and Hove’s poorest tenants £5 million a year between them.

He added that it would also give voters the right to call a referendum on local issues and to veto excessive council tax rises.

Mr Kirby, a former Brighton and East Sussex councillor, said: “This bill sweeps away decades of Whitehall domination.

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“The bill will give more power to communities, neighbourhoods and individuals.

“As a former district, borough, city and county councillor, I believe this bill is a long time coming.”

The Localism Bill promises to

  • give councils a general power of competence
  • allow councils to choose whether to run themselves with cabinets or committees
  • allow councils to hold a referendum on whether to have an elected mayor
  • give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local
  • issue and the power to veto excessive council tax increases
  • allow councils more discretion over business rate relief
  • provide new powers to help save local facilities and services threatened with closure
  • give voluntary and community groups the right to challenge local authorities over their services.

The housing provisions will

  • reform the Housing Revenue Account system under which tenants in Brighton and Hove currently have to pay the government about £5 million in the next financial year
  • provide for a new form of flexible tenure for social housing tenants
  • allow local authorities to discharge their duties to homeless people by using private rented accommodation
  • enable councils to limit who can apply for social housing within their area
  • change the way in which a social tenant can make a complaint about their landlord
  • improve the ability of social tenants to move to different areas.

The planning and regeneration provisions will

  • abolish regional spatial strategies
  • abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return to a position where the Secretary of State takes the final decision on major infrastructure proposals of national importance
  • provide for neighbourhood plans, which would be approved if they received 50 per cent of the votes cast in a referendum
  • provide for neighbourhood development orders to allow communities to approve development without requiring normal planning consent

Mr Kirby said: “I am a strong supporter of this bill.

“Its freedoms will bring new opportunities.

“Its reforms will let go of the shackles under which so much of local government has operated for so long.

“Its changes concerning communities will give those who have craved more responsibility the chance to exercise it.

“In short this bill will give our localities the look of the 21st century and the tools to carry out the job.”

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