News story

Grant Shapps tells councillors: don't let council officers be the backseat drivers

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

The minister today told councillors not to let back seat bureaucracy steer them off course on the road to greater town hall autonomy.

In a speech to the Local Government Association, Mr Shapps said the government has set a new course towards independence for local authorities where elected councillors are in the driving seat.

Mr Shapps said it is now vital that locally elected representatives use these new powers - being introduced through the Localism Bill - and their democratic mandate to steer their council in the right direction.

Radical reforms are handing back control to councils and communities so they are in charge of the decisions about housing, planning and economic issues that affect their area.

The government has abolished top down assessment regimes, which attempted to micromanage councils, and is introducing a new ‘power of competence’ that will give councillors the power to make decisions in the best interest of their local community.

Housing and Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said:

“Local councillors are the heroes of their communities - they’re hard working, dedicated and often unpaid. But for years these democratically elected representatives have been forced to sit on their hands in the passenger seat of local government, whilst local decisions are dictated to them from Whitehall.

“The government acted quickly to shift this balance of power, and has set councils on a revolutionary road where the authority and responsibility of councillors will be restored, along with their ability to respond to what local people need and want. We’ve put councillors in the driving seat.

“It is councillors who have the democratic mandate to make decisions in the best interests of their communities. So I urge them to keep up the good work and seize this opportunity to set the right course for their local area, and break free from the red tape and bureaucratic control that has kept them in the slow lane for so long.”