Thomas Bridge 19 January 2015

Abolish every English council and replace them with 'mini-parliaments'

Two senior Liberal Democrats have proposed radical devolution plans that would abolish every council in England and introduce a series of 'mini-parliaments'.

Sir Nick Harvey and Lord Tyler have suggested replacing every local authority in England with roughly 150 'local governments' and up to 20 'regional governments' in a bid to bring about 'a renaissance of local accountability'.

Plans outlined in a publication from liberal thinktank CentreForum also include a 'devolution on demand' approach, which would allow local leaders to demand legislative power from Westminster to any area with a population of a million or more.

Such a system could see significant further powers handed to areas including London and Cornwall.

Lord Tyler said the plan would take the debate about the devolution of power in England 'out of the cul-de-sac of votes in the House of Commons'.

'Only radical devolution out of Westminster can make politics more accountable, by ensuring decisions are taken as closely as possible to those they affect', he added.

Harvey said: 'It is wearily depressing to see right wing Tories licking their lips at the thought of expelling 59 Scottish MPs from the debate over much of the domestic agenda, then reinforcing the status quo - of grotesque centralised rule from London - with the rightward lurch effected by axing the Scots.

'Their sabre-rattling about English votes is a massive distraction from the real need to decentralise power within England.

'Our proposals are for radical devolution from London, and not just to cities, but to rural areas too. It is the only way to bring about a renaissance of local accountability and to stop some small rural local authorities going bankrupt.'

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