Localism Bill

Memorandum submitted by Fylde Borough Council (L 118)

Re: Local Government Governance Arrangements, Localism Bill

I am aware that the Committee is currently considering the content of the Localism Bill, which contains a discretionary power for local authorities to adopt alternative governance arrangements from the leader and cabinet model or the elected Mayor and cabinet model.

I am writing to say that this Council would be supportive of the flexibility which is anticipated in this section of the Bill and has already established a cross-party working group to assess the impact and options that such flexibility would bring.

I am also aware that a submission has been forward to you by a local group in Fylde known as the Fylde Civic Awareness Group. The language of this submission (which it purports as ‘evidence’) makes a number of disparaging comments and suggestions regarding the effectiveness of the current governance arrangements in place at Fylde Borough Council. I am sure that members of the Committee will appreciate that there are many different local points of view on how effectively a local authority operates, but, having read some of the comments I felt obliged to write to you with a balancing perspective.

The Civic Awareness Group has done some sterling local work in recent years to raise awareness of and participation in local politics and they are to be commended for this. It is fair to say, however, that the core members of the group are also actively engaged in a number of other groups which oppose most policies that the Council promotes and act generally as the Council’s ‘armchair auditors’.

The commentary contained within the Group’s submission suggests that it is representative of more than half of the local population. However, I am sure you will appreciate if you read the document that, at its height, the Group has garnered the interest of less than 200 people during the last eight years out of a population of 76,000 – the point being that the views in the submission are generally not representative of the majority of the local community, who are comforted by the facts that audited performance indicators show that local public services are generally on the upward (top quartile) trend and financial reports indicate that the costs of these services are on the downward trend.

You will see from my letter and from the submission of the Fylde Civic Awareness Group that our positions are aligned on the flexible governance proposals contained in the Localism Bill and I hope this is sufficient for the deliberations of your Committee. However, I was concerned that you may develop a misleading view of Fylde without any information to counterbalance the content of their submission.

February 2011