Recently in Nick Clegg Category
So.... Manchester, Nottingham, Coventry and Bradford have rejected the proposal for a directly elected mayor.
I am mildly surprised actually. But I guess there was always a philosophical disconnect between a centrist London cognoscenti push to get regional cities to adopt elected mayors and the ethos of localism and the general power of competence. You do have to ask why successive governments get it so wrong with trying to persuade the nation that regional government is the way forward. Nobody seemed to learn much from the ill fated attempt by John Prescott trying to convince very sceptical, and very opposed, regions to vote for a regional government structure back in the day. That was a complete waste of time, but we didn't read the runes. The mayoral referenda were touted as a key part of localism and improving democratic accountability but, contrary to everything which the Government promoted, the public seem to have perceived it as absolutely the opposite.
There are rumours that nice Mr Clegg and... er... Mr Pickles hold different views over the scope of the finance review (well, I never!). This spat threatens to put a bit of a spanner in the works, being as it forms a key plank of the coalition government's long-term plan to overhaul local government and to reduce councils' heavy reliance on central government funding.
A leaked letter from Mr Clegg to Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne reveals that the deputy prime minister wants a root-and-branch review of local tax-raising powers - including the consideration of American-style local sales and fuel taxes, reformed parking levies and wider borrowing powers - to help councils become increasingly self-sufficient (any warning bells sounding yet?).
But, true to form, Mr Pickles takes a more traditional view. Following years of sharp rises in council tax, it is understood that Mr Pickles (and Mr Osborne) are hell bent on limiting the number of new taxes (warning bells getting any louder?) and will stick to their guns in kick-starting a standard finance review that is more narrow in scope. For this, read, "never mind, nice Mr Clegg, Mr Pickles will be fighting hard for the answer he thought of in the first place" (and, moreover, he has the support of Mr Osborne).