The government’s ‘localism’ veil is looking increasingly thin and worn with every passing week. Since the Localism Bill passed through the Commons by 300 to 216, despite being called a Centralism Bill by Prof George Jones and a complete failure by one of the Lib Dem’s own MPs, we have seen further assault on the independence of local government.

First Bob Neil declares that Eric Pickles would be able to appoint anyone he likes to be a shadow mayor should the sitting leader refuse to take up the post – a bizarre affront to local democracy.

Then we have the same old media tactics this weekend on credit cards – using a few exceptions of wrongful extravagance to further denigrate the sector as a whole and reinforce public perception that there is plenty of waste to be trimmed in councils. A clever ruse to soften public resistance to local government cuts.

And then today we have an announcement in the Telegraph that the government is to effectively bribe councils to restore weekly bin collections. Financial incentives for something like this at a time when councils are having to make difficult budget decisions over issues such as funding for sure starts, upkeep of green spaces or care for the elderly seems a grim joke. And I thought this government believed that local ballot box was the place to hold local government to account…


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