The West of England’s devolution deal was rubber stamped last night after months of discussion by local leaders.
The agreement unlocks around £1bn in investment in housing, transport and skills. Most people would regard these as important issues that should be locally controlled.
Despite this and the welcome statements that will follow, last night’s response to the news seemed muted.
Councillors in Bristol expressed concerns that the 2,000 responses the recent consultation generated should have been much higher.
The Bristol Post reported these concerns alongside the question: does anyone care?
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Reaction to the elected mayor vote in Bristol – various
Well done Bristol for bucking the national trend and voting decisively, if in small numbers, in favour of an elected mayor to lead the city from November. They were the only city to vote yes to the proposal following a pretty low-key campaign on the issue. The Centre for Cities has published some links on the issue, while the Bristol Post’s coverage of the result and early indication of who the runners and riders for Bristol’s first elected mayor has been well-informed, detailed and sharp, as good local journalism should be. Whether the result was an endorsement of the proposal or due to more negative factors is open to question, which The Guardian poses in its leader on the issue today. Having followed the debate, I’m sure many people voted yes because the current council leadership was against the idea. Anti politics and apathy were the biggest winners this week, but all is not lost. Hopefully a new way of doing things in Bristol will start to change that.
Elections – ‘We the council’ – Kevin Jump
‘Webist’ Jump provides insight into the information provided by council websites about this week’s local elections. He concludes that interest in the local elections is high and the correct information is available, but is not entirely useful and lacks focus on the needs of local users. A number of websites in the area I cover at work are included in the survey.
- Yes or no? (bristolculture.wordpress.com)
I’ve been having discussions and reading about the enhanced role our major cities can play, proposals to hand more power and responsibility to city halls, or Core Cities, and the ambition of towns to be seen as having more clout.
Yesterday’s announcement that Perth, St Asaph and Chelmsford are to be crowned Jubilee cities brought back memories of my time reporting the ultimately fruitless city status bids of the towns in which I worked, in Reading at the end of the 1990s and Doncaster a couple of years later. A lot of people don’t get the point of these city status bids, as they confer no extra power or funding on the winner. But it shouldn’t be underestimated what it means to people who live and work there. It can help raise the profile or even change the image of a place (ask Preston, who beat Donny to become a ‘Golden City’ in 2002).
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Here are a small number of online reactions I have noticed from those directly affected by the Localism Bill, laid in Parliament yesterday.
‘We welcome the general thrust of the Bill…however…’ – GWE Business West blog
A cautious welcome from the Chambers of Commerce covering Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire.
Reaction to Localism Bill – LGiU the local democracy blog
One of a few decent posts on the LGiU blog, from chief executive Andy Sawford (who is also worth following on Twitter).
Getting to the heart of localism – Living with rats
Julian Dobson writes about a Bradford community group that has put localism into action and highlights some of the policy pitfalls in the process.
‘Barbara’s our Boris’ – Bristol Evening Post
Reaction to yesterday’s news that Bristol City Council leader Barbara Janke is its ‘answer to Boris Johnson’, as part of the bill’s plans to created a new breed of 12 elected mayors in England’s urban metropolitan areas. Here’s hoping for a decent debate on this issue in the months ahead.
Former council leader, now Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles
There are many things those of us who live outside London should welcome about the Localism Bill, published today by the Government.
Who could argue with moves to involve people more closely in running their communities, reduce red tape and devolve power (and responsibility) to grass-roots level?
There were two things about today’s announcement that struck me in particular.
1. There were few surprises: this had been an extremely well trailed package, with plenty of elements announced weeks in advance by Ministers, and Eric Pickles undertaking a round of media interviews yesterday to sell his vision.
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