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Local Government

Transparency

  • Publish full minutes (or transcripts if available), audio recordings, and voting records from all local council meetings. Online publication should be performed within 24 hours. Software tools will be created to make this process simple.

  • A local accountability service will be provided online to show, for each local authority;

  1. Spending records (including spending below £500).

  2. Council political make-up and details of councillors (similar to that provided by OpenlyLocal).

  3. Details of councillor connections with companies and charities (i.e. shareholding and directorships).

  4. Searchable transcripts and video recordings of all public council meetings (similar to TheyWorkForYou.com).

Waste and Environment

  • The Localism Act 2011 repealed powers under The Climate Change Act 2008 which gave councils the ability to charge, fine or introduce tariffs regarding household waste. Local authorities are primarily responsible for waste collection and recycling. Consequently, local government should have the power to issue financial disincentives (and/or incentives) to encourage recycling and effective waste collection.

Community Engagement

  • Local Councillors should provide as a minimum, two weekend community surgeries a month.

  • Ward based public debates should not be confined only to hustings during periods of election campaigning. A minimum number should be required per calendar year.

  • An elected ward councillor must participate and one party member from other parties may do so if they wish.

  • The debate should be chaired by a local resident.

Inquiry

  • We will commission an independent inquiry into the scale of corruption within the UK local government system. This to be overseen by a sitting judge.

  • The government should, following the conclusion of the independent inquiry into local government corruption, hold intermittent national corruption risk assessments every few years.

Counter-corruption

  • We will maintain legal protections for key anti-corruption officials within councils, such as Chief Executives and Monitoring Officers, to prevent them being targeted by corrupt officials or councillors. We will also establish an easy-to-use and confidential channel whereby whistle-blowers can report suspicions of corruption and incidents.

  • Each local authority should have a dedicated counter-corruption official who conducts regular corruption risk assessments, liaises closely with law enforcement officials and other government bodies, such as the Local Government Ombudsman.

Auditing

  • We will introduce a statutory requirement for councils at district/borough level, and higher, to maintain an audit committee as a full committee, with a specific remit to include corruption investigations and corruption risk assessments. Also, independent auditing teams within councils must be properly resourced and sufficiently independent so that the influence of corrupt officials on their work is minimised.

  • Companies that carry out auditing contracts for councils will not be allowed to provide other commercial and consultancy services to the same local authority.

Local Level

  • While on a local level primary legislation is somewhat out of reach, there are many ways local councils, NHS bodies, and emergency services, can work on a harm reduction basis.

  • Within the council, safe and known areas for trading in substances can be set up, literature on safer and informed consent around drug use can be produced, procured, and distributed, harm reduction education and drug amnesty policies can be implemented in schools (focusing on post 13 education), addiction management and confidentiality policies can be implemented within social services.

  • Within the police, the reestablishment of Police Authorities would allow for nullification of drug legislation through non-enforcement. This would be done in a coordinated manner with other public service organisations, allowing for a managed reduction in drug based policing. This would primarily focus on drugs with a low potential for harm, such as cannabis and MDMA as suggested by neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt. This would be supported with drug testing kits being made available to users at key locations, allowing for less unpredictable behaviour due to being provided with the wrong substance. This lowering of policing in the area of drugs with a low potential for harm will allow for resources to be better used in other areas as wanted by the community.

  • The NHS has a key role to play locally, as education, treatment, training, and more honest responses from users will all allow for faster and more effective treatment and long term care for drug users. GPs surgeries and clinics are key places to distribute information, provide testing services or kits, and collect important anonymised data to allow for the better provisioning of services targeted at drug users.

  • With the emergency services, the current harm reduction pathway, specifically that seen within the ambulance services, has seen lives saved due to the enabling of friends and relatives to give relevant information to emergency personnel with no threat of reprisal. The expansion and diversification of this strategy, specifically with regards to personal use, may well allow for preventative measures and information, such as the fitting of fire alarms in users residences and information around the fire dangers surrounding smoking, to be delivered to otherwise reluctant users, potentially resulting in fewer house fires etc.

  • With a comprehensive strategy allowing for strategies at all levels and areas of local government, we hope this will allow us to effect change in a productive manner wherever we are elected.

  • With the ending of spending waste across all sectors of Government within 12 months, we will insist that local councils cut their council tax rates to help out the millions of people that are struggling to make ends meet.

  • We will ensure that local government executives are accountable to the public via a new Public Sector Accountability Act.