One question I’ve been wrestling with is this: whither localism in the case of boroughs (such as Brent) or cities (such as Liverpool) where Labour has taken electoral control?
Joe Anderson, the new Liverpool Labour Leader gave a speech when the election result became clear, speaking almost exclusively about regeneration and his intention to make it more meaningful and relevant to the people of the city.
And a BURA Board member who’d been present (my tentacles reach far and wide you know) later pressed Cllr Anderson on this point, who again emphasised that this will be his focus.
All of which is in stark contrast to the silence on the issue from the three main parties in the run-up to the election, of course.
But at least there is now one place where regeneration is high on the political agenda! We will be keeping careful watch. BURA has a huge bond with Liverpool naturally; we are real mates.
We are now getting to grips with a new government with a new style. Let us hope that the “new politics” will mean follow through on localism even to those boroughs that are in political opposition.
How refreshing would that be? I understand that the new Minister for Localism, Greg Clark, is a real exponent of the new politics; we sure look forward to working with him! There is clearly all to play for.
We are gearing up for the BURA Post-Election Summit tonight and Paul Evans will be discussing the evolution of political thinking in regeneration over the last six weeks or so and then indulging in a little “Kremlinology” on what’s in store.
Our message is coherent: now the game has changed, there is no money anyway so it is no good asking for it. But we hope and believe the terms of trade have changed. As Dr Evans says. “There may be a paraphrase of the Kennedy quote in all this: ask not what your government can do for you – ask what you can do for your locality. And then tell the government to get out of the way”.
We are not attempting to sort out everything – whether the detail of housing policy or how to reform the welfare state: we believe that the common feature is to make better use of limited resources by reducing bureaucracy, limiting the number of initiatives and giving responsible and accountable local authorities more freedom to deliver, governed by fewer targets.
Our clarion call will be “Simple really – let’s do it this time.”