Tories launch new think-tank

Published 5 October 2001

The former leader of the LGA Tory group, Lord Hanningfield, has launched a think tank dedicated to local government services. Vice chair of the LGA Lord Hanningfield, along with fellow Tories, IDeA chairman Colin Barrow and Bracknell Forest Council leader Paul Bettison, launched Localis insisting it was not a political think tank, but would be open to members from all political persuasions, and those outside local government.

The new group hopes to debate the future of local government from its most practical side, considering service provision and paying for services, rather than the modernisation and structure questions which have dominated existing debates. Localis has vowed to tackle the issue of local government funding and lobby for greater financial autonomy for councils.

Launching the new group, Lord Hanningfield accused central Government ? under both Labour and Conservative leadership ? of growing ‘too big for its boots’ with policies of over-centralisation. ‘Local councils are becoming simply the administration of national policy ? we are becoming Whitehall’s puppets,’ he said. He argued councils need more discretion to deliver services locally.

Co-founder, Colin Barrow, said: ‘We feel that policy makers should look first for local solutions to their questions before prescribing ?one size fits all? policies across the whole country. ‘Local councils have an essential democratic role to play in overseeing the delivery of public services. They must have greater powers to offer choices to local communities.’

He added: ‘Localis will be the focal point for new thinking about the future of local government and the role it should be playing in delivering essential public services to local communities.’

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