What are your top issues as we ‘recover’ from the effects of COVID-19?
As well as securing council finances, the LGA’s Independent Group members want our future world to lock in the benefits we have and need.
Can we keep clean air, locally focused economies and strong communities? That means not going back to the rat race, directed to increase GDP, and inadvertently damaging the very quality of life we are seeking.
The answer cannot be more houses, debt and congestion. It is vital communities have a sense of ownership and pride in their local places, led by local, elected leaders who are accountable and in touch.
Our councils are trusted, efficient and effective, while centralising services incrementally breaks local bonds. We need genuine devolution to our councillors, not another layer of bureaucracy with a gravitational pull of powers and funds out of local areas. The larger the organisation, the harder it is for residents to influence, especially if there are fewer councillors.
There are changes and savings councils will need to make, but there seems little point in losing our local identity in the process. The LGA’s report on a sustainable economic recovery outlines one of the areas of opportunity – namely, how green jobs will rapidly increase to an estimated 0.7 million by 2030 as the nation transitions to net zero emissions (see p15).
We will be talking about recovery as part of the LGA’s virtual annual conference. Our session on 8 July is with Crossbench Peer Tanni Grey-Thompson and will focus on recovery for all.