News story

Council workers to help in radical plan to cut red tape

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A radical plan to banish red tape and repeal unnecessary laws was unveiled by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today (7 July 2010).

Mr Pickles and his ministerial colleague Andrew Stunell made the announcement on a visit to Boscombe seafront. They met local council workers to ask them for their ideas for cutting back waste and making savings as part of a government wide promise to ask people and the public sector for their ideas.

The ministers also met local entrepreneurs and community champions that recently turned a car park and derelict buildings into a thriving area with modern beach huts, a shop and a restaurant - a great example of the Big Society in action.

Piles of regulatory red tape are a traditional part of law making. But the government has made it clear that it would shun the bureaucratic levers of the past imposed on councils and help encourage, local people to take control themselves.

Eric Pickles and Andrew Stunell talking to a crowd
Eric Pickles and Andrew Stunell talking to front line workers in Boscombe.

Mr Pickles invited all council staff and sector experts to suggest DCLG sponsored statutory guidance, secondary legislation or regulations they think should be removed so councils can get on with their job.

All ‘Cut Red Tape’ ideas will be considered. Send them to cutredtape@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Eric Pickles said:

“Too much power has been sucked out of communities into Westminster eroding trust in politics, and sapping responsibility and initiative with stifling bureaucracy.

“More often than not over legislating simply lead to bureaucrats ticking extra sets of boxes on forms but none of the real changes that are needed. We need a sensible new approach that makes clear laws are intended to protect people, not overwhelm them with red tape.

“Today I am asking councils to put localism into action and help us cut back red tape, wrest control away from the bureaucrats, reverse the years of creeping state control and return power to people, communities and councils.

“Up and down the country there are thousands of town hall workers and sector experts who want to make a real difference in their communities. But for far too long they have been tied up in needless bureaucracy that has been a burden on the important work they want to do.”

Minister publishes list of unnecessary red tape

Mr Pickles showed his commitment to the cause by publishing a list of unnecessary regulations, ridiculous micromanagement or outdated laws that he intend to revoke or simplify today. It included a 1919 law that requires the Secretary of State to approve councils wanting to buy new land for allotments; three different sets of regulation governing tree protection; and guidance on the duty to carry out an economic assessment.

The coalition programme for government committed to giving the public the opportunity to challenge the worst regulations and to introducing a ‘1-in, 1-out’ rule whereby no new regulation is brought in without other regulation being cut by a greater amount. And ‘sunset clauses’ will ensure regulation is regularly reviewed.

The Deputy Prime Minister is spearheading the coalition’s push to restore power to individuals creating a more open politics where the public are more engaged in government where as many people as possible submit ideas for change. The government launched the ‘Your Freedom’ public debate and website last Thursday.

Councils welcome invitation

Councils are already welcoming the chance to reduce burdens with over 240 having coming forward already:

Nicholas True, Leader of Richmond upon Thames the Council said:

“I am grateful for this opportunity to contribute to the debate. Such an initiative was long overdue. A culture of top-down dictation has added enormously to the costs of local government and impaired performance and responsiveness to local concerns.”

Mark Hall, Chief Executive, Oadby and Wigston said:

“We welcome this approach and the chance to reduce administration burdens on local authorities which will reduce costs, waste and improve customer service delivery.”

Martin Reeves, Chief Executive, Coventry said:

“We really welcome this opportunity to give you our initial views and we are looking forward to working with you to remove layers of bureaucracy and inappropriate central government micro-management of local service delivery which is costly; inefficient and to return decision making back to local people” 

Robert Knowles, Leader of Waverley Council said:

“Thank you for the opportunity you have given local authorities to suggest ways in which the new government can free-up local councils from the excesses of top-down regulation and control that we have had to shoulder over recent years.”

Photographs of the visit are available from the DCLG Flickr channel