Why must Brexit mean Brexit in the politics of Devolution and Localism?

Abandoning the anti-democratic arrangements put forward by the European Union helps the struggle against Austerity and a return to funding in the post Brexit period of  leaving the EU.

Devolution in reality is centralisation and the Cameron ‘ Big Society’ hyperbole was in reality ‘Localism’. Little or nothing has been heard of the ‘Big Society’ since the demise of Cameron and Osborne.

The Localism Act 2011, was an Act of Parliament that supposedly changed the powers of local government in England. The fact is it ran out of steam in terms of creating the conditions for voluntary and free labour. In other words, the aspiration of a source of new added value and expolitation has not succeeded.

The bill was introduced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, and given its first reading on 13 December 2010. The Bill completed the third reading in the House of Lords on 31 October 2011 The bill received Royal Assent on 15 November 2011.

The aim of the act was to ‘facilitate’ the devolution of decision-making powers from central government control to individuals and communities. The reality was no such thing. Mainly it has meant passing down to local parishes public services at no cost to unitary authorities as one means to balance budgets. Often this has led to failure as the resources and labour could not be found or afforded.

The measures affected by the Act included an increase in the number of elected mayors, showing how exactly Localism and Devolution are linked.

The main reason for such an act was to enact the EU policy for the regions and carry out the necessary EU Commission directives.

It was designed to make provision about the functions and procedures of local and certain other authorities; to make provision about the functions of the Local Commission for Administration in England; to enable the recovery of financial sanctions imposed by the Court of Justice of the European Union on the United Kingdom from local and public authorities; to make provision about local government finance; to make provision about town and country planning, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the authorisation of nationally significant infrastructure projects; to make provision about housing; to make provision about regeneration in London; and for connected purposes.

The Act was to enable and give ministers the right to require public authorities to pay fines to the European Union resulting from an infraction of European Union law.

This no longer relevant as we have voted to leave the EU, so why are local authority leaders continuing to pursue Devolution? Why are parishes not demanding a replacement for Localism in terms of establishing new sources of funding?

In the first place it gives a lie to Theresa May’s promise that Brexit means Brexit. Devolution plans that provide continuity to the EU policy for the regions keep in place developmental strategies to fit in with continuation of EU membership, suiting the remain campaigners positions in leadership positions.

Although the act was envisaged as having the potential to bring about wide-scale decentralisation, there have been few significant examples of its implementation as it does not challenge the deep-rooted centralisation in Britain.

One notable proposal that illustrates continuation of the act has been the combined authorities formed by local authorities pooling their powers of transport and economy this has been quite clearly suggested in the Portsmouth, Southampton and Isle of Wight Devolution proposals.

In November 2011, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority used the Localism Act 2011 to seek provision for a further transfer of powers that would result in an additional devolution of authority from the UK’s central government, enhancing its powers over transport and housing and granting it competencies to fund and control schemes on its own terms. However, further devolution required primary legislation and this was announced in November 2014

It was suggested that the Localism Bill could form a stepping stone to a devolved Cornish Assembly. Greg Clark, the minister responsible for the Bill, had indicated that this would be possible.In November 2010… It hasn’t happened.

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