Mockery Of Local Govt Bill
Council Housing Changes Make A Mockery Of Local Govt Bill
The Government's plan to amend the Local Government Bill to make local authority provided housing a 'strategic asset' makes a mockery of the Bill's intent to provide local authorities with a power of general competence, says Local Government Forum  Chairman Rob McLagan.
"The Government says it wants to empower local authorities to make their own decisions without having to be constrained by the current complex and prescriptive Local Government Act," Mr McLagan said.
"However, it seems only to want local authorities to be free to act if their decisions are consistent with central government policy, regardless of the outcome of the local authority elections.
"The restrictions the Government will be retrospectively imposing on a local authority's ability to make decisions on housing join similar constraints in the Bill on councils divesting themselves of airport and port company shares and an outright prohibition on councils from exiting the delivery of water and wastewater services or even charging library membership fees.
"No such constraints seem to be envisaged on councils expanding their activities, increasing their spending and rates demands, or making rules that would stifle economic development. This lack of balance in the Local Government Bill shows it's about ensuring that local authorities act in accordance with the Government's policy of the day and not what would be in the best interests of who they are supposed to serve, the long suffering ratepayer," Mr McLagan said.