Lichfield MP says Conservatives will ditch Regional Leaders’ Boards

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has claimed that the Government’s new Regional Leaders’ Boards will be a pointless exercise if the Conservatives win the next General Election.

The Government are hoping to introduce the Boards – consisting of local council leaders – to replace Regional Assemblies and take over regional planning.

Mr Fabricant has said it was his understanding that a Regional Leaders’ Board was being planned for the West Midlands area and would cover his Lichfield constituency.

But he insisted that the Conservatives would scrap the scheme if they ousted Labour from Downing Street.

Mr Fabricant said:

“While leaders of local councils will, of course, be free to meet if they so wish, under the Conservatives they will no longer receive any financial support and all planning and other powers will be stripped from them and be transferred to local councils.  In short, official regional structures will be a thing of the past saving the local council tax payer millions of pounds.

“I believe that local councils should be empowered to make their own decisions regarding house building targets and not have these targets imposed by the Region.  If a Conservative Government were elected, Lichfield District Council and other local authorities across the West Midlands will have to decide for themselves how many new affordable and other homes are to be built.  Local housing and economic needs will have to be weighed against preservation of the environment.  This will require tough choices to be made at grass roots level. The buck can no longer be passed to an unelected quango in Birmingham.

“Although this will be a challenge for many councillors who will be fully accountable to their electorate for their decisions, I believe it will be a good move and halt the disconnect that exists between regional planners and local campaigners wishing to preserve their environment.”

In answer to a Parliamentary Question from Caroline Spelman MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government), Government Minister John Healey revealed: 

“The relevant Government Offices have been notified of new governance working arrangements in the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, South East and North West.  These new bodies, or committees connected to them, will be recognised as the Regional Planning Body as an interim arrangement until commencement of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill when Local Authority Leaders’ Boards following consultation by participating authorities on a scheme will be approved by the Secretary of State.”

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