Friday, 6 August 2010


Okay its only small beer alongside the VAT rises and changes to the NHS but the announcement today by Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, that local authorities will from the end of this month be able to sell green electricity to the National Grid is sensible and should act as an incentive to councils to start investing in local energy. The Independent mentions coastal councils investing in wind power (where is the long-promised wave power...?) as one example but simply given the number of publicly owned roofs across the country it is clear that the potential for development in this area is immense.

Remember that a great deal of the impetus for water supplies, street lighting, roads, public transport and public parks in the 19th century came from new local authorities and in large part made the country we live in. I am biased because I used to work for a Lib Dem council which actually did stuff but which is now faced with swingeing cuts as the result of Council Tax, central diktat and interference, but it seems to me that by imposing central targets and ludicrous taxation rules on local authorities central government has for years tied the hands of what are potential innovators and wealth creators across the country.

My current job involves working with authorities which are trying very hard to deliver good services with declining budgets and at the same time innovating to improve those services. Many councils are doing their best, so it is heartening to see the government easing up on one of many pointless restrictions. Who knows, maybe local government will once be just that - government which is local.

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