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Government agrees to protect district council functions

Published: 18 November 2022

Levelling Up Bill: Government agrees to protect district council functions

The District Councils’ Network has welcomed Michael Gove’s move to end the risk that district council services could be taken away from them without local consent.

The Levelling Up Secretary has tabled an amendment to Clause 16 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. This would have undermined sovereign district council powers and local democracy by allowing their functions to be centralised at a county level, regardless of the views of democratically-elected district councillors.

Mr Gove’s amendment prevents the functions of a district council being exercised by a combined county authority (CCA).

In response, Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said:

“We are very pleased that the government has listened to the concerns district councils have raised and removed the risk that district council functions can be transferred without consent.

“This is a welcome step towards recognising that districts should have a full and active role in Combined County Authorities (CCA). However, it’s still vital that the government moves beyond warm words about districts’ involvement in the running and delivery of county deals by giving districts the right to be constituent members. This should be the case for any county deal, regardless of whether it is a CCA or other devolution model.

“The government amendment is in the interests of all local partners and increases the chance of securing strong devolution deals with widespread local buy-in.

“Across England, district councils are seeking to work collaboratively with our county partners, wider local partners and the government to secure the growth so urgently needed by our local communities.”

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