No 10 visit is 'an honour'

CALDERDALE councillor Stephen Baines met with the Prime Minister to discuss plans to give more power to local governments and residents.

The Northowram and Shelf councillor (Cons) was invited to a reception hosted at 10 Downing Street where David Cameron discussed the Government's Localism Bill.

The bill aims to bolster the PM's Big Society vision by radically transforming the relationship between central government, local government, communities and individuals.

New powers would be handed down to councils to strengthen local democracy as well as establishing new rights for local communities and overhauling the planning system.

Mr Cameron said the bill would also make housing decisions fairer and support local businesses.

Coun Baines said: "It was an honour to visit Downing Street and to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the positive changes the Government are making to the way local councils are run.

"By putting an end to the hoarding of power within central government and the top-down control of communities, they will allow local people the freedom to run their lives and neighbourhoods in their own way."

The Localism Bill was presented to Parliament on December 13 last year and will be the subject of debate on on January 17.

The bill also includes the power for councillors to approve and publish new chief executive pay rules and will give local people the right to bid to buy local assets such as libraries, pubs and shops.

It gives people a new power to veto excessive council tax rises through a referendum and councils will be able to give discretionary business rate discounts. The Government says public satistfaction with local councils fell year on year under Labour.

In 2000, 65 per cent of the public were statisfied with local councils, falling to 45 per cent by 2008.