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Lib Dems call for a fair deal for Surrey

January 27, 2014 11:10 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Council Tax BillLiberal Democrats are calling for a fair deal for Surrey, with more local decision making on funding and less central government control. Surrey should be allowed to keep a fairer share of the money generated within the county.

Hazel Watson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Surrey County Council said: "Surrey residents and businesses should reap the rewards of their own efforts without excessive central government control.

"The amount of funding available to Surrey is effectively decided by central government. This is because central government decides the amount of money available to Surrey County Council from itself in the form of grant and effectively decides the level of Council Tax that the council will charge, with very little room for manoeuvre.

"This central control is excessive especially given the Localism Act, which was supposed to give more freedom to local people to make decisions affecting their communities. Localism is more apparent than real. Surrey's county councillors should be held accountable to their residents at election time, not to central government.

"Surrey is an economic powerhouse, and it is only fair and reasonable that it should be able to keep a greater share of the money that it generates. This could be used to fund services to the growing number of older people, much needed extra classrooms, flood prevention and repairing Surrey's crumbling highways and footways.

"Liberal Democrats are calling on the County Council to lobby central government to give Surrey more freedom over its own funding and finances, allowing more money generated by Surrey's residents and businesses to stay in Surrey to improve services."

ENDS

NOTES

Liberal Democrats have submitted the following motion for the budget meeting of Surrey County Council on 11 February 2014:

Proposed: Hazel Watson

Seconded: Stephen Cooksey

This Council notes the Government announcements restricting Surrey County Council's Council Tax increase, without incurring the cost of holding a referendum, to a level which will severely impact on Surrey's services to the public.

This Council believes in local government as one of the cornerstones of democracy in the UK, championing the needs and ambitions of the people it represents and that decisions made on behalf of a community are best made by those in the community

This Council notes the Prime Minister's acknowledgement that local government is the most efficient part of the public sector.

Councils further notes the General Power of Competence introduced in the Localism Act 2011 giving local authorities power to do anything that individuals of full legal capacity may do giving authorities the power to take reasonable action they need 'for the benefit of the authority, its area or persons resident or present in its area'.

This Council supports the Local Government Association in its campaign for independence for local government based on the following principles:

i) Councils should retain in full the proceeds of Council Tax and business rates, subject to retaining mechanisms for fairness and redistribution and that both these taxes should be determined by councils alone without central government interference;

ii) Councils should be granted greater freedoms and flexibilities to drive economic growth;

iii) Councils should be accountable to their electorates and not to ministers of the Crown;

iv) The burden of statutory duties and central compliance regimes should be lifted further; and

This Council therefore resolves to work with Surrey's Members of Parliament, the LGA and other Councils to campaign for a far greater devolution of powers from central to local government.