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Leader wants more devolved powers

John Gilbey believes move will improve services

JOHN Gilbey the leader of Canterbury City Council, has added his signature to a letter to central Government calling for more powers to be devolved to the district. The letter which appeared in The Observer last Sunday was signed by over 120 council leaders, including three in Kent. As well as devolved powers it also asks for an end to cuts to local authority funding. Councillor Gilbey said the devolved powers matter, because they will enable city and parish councils to have more control over their future. He said:

“Devolved powers would be good for the district. We can make these decisions fester and more ernclently than central government can, We are elected to make decisions, and it would be best if we were free to go off and do it.”

But despite requesting an end to fundraising cuts, Counclilor Gilbey said the coalition government had done “what needed to be done” to get the UK out of recession. He said:

“It’s needs must: I think a lot of people forget the hole we were in back in 2010, compared to where we are now. The cuts have been hard, and fast, but they have had to be.”

People in England have been calling for more powers to be given to local authorities, after recommendations by the Smith Commission that people in Scotland get more powers over tax. The letter said the people represented, including the citizens of Cantenbury, “look north of the border with envy at the greater control Scots are to get over their everyday lives”.

Compelling

The letter reads:

“Last week, the Smith Commission set out a better deal for Scotland, granting more control over funding and recognising the importance of devolving power down beyond Holyrood. It’s England’s turn now. There is compelling evidence that taking decisions closer to the people affected achieves better results and saves money.”

As well as devolved powers, the latter also calls for fewer cuts to local authorities in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement, which is being delivered today (Wednesday). According to the letter, authorities have seen cuts to their funding of up to 40%, putting essential services like social care in jeopardy. Cllr Gilbey has found an unlikely bedfellow in his supporting this measure in Councillor Alex Perkins, the leader of the opposition, who said:

“More powers should be devolved. We have the most central so-called local government in Europe. We’re finding huge salaries paid to people in Whitehall, while people in local government do all the work.”

But Cllr Perkins disagreed that the current government had treated local author tiles fairly adding:

“The cuts have been disgraceful, and the services suffer. If the prices in your leisure centre go up, or it takes longer for people in the council offices to answer the phone because there’s fewer staff people blame local government, but it’s the cuts in funding that do it.”

Herne Bay Times, December 3rd 2014

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