At-a-glance: Localism Bill


The bill will give a community 'right to challenge' to help different groups run local services. Voluntary groups, parish councils and others will be able to express an interest in taking over council-run services, like social care services or running children's centres, and the local authority will have to consider it.


People will be able to ask for referenda on any local issue they think is important. Local authorities and other public bodies will be required to take the outcome into account as they make decisions.


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The bill aims to make it easier for community groups to buy pubs, village shops and libraries. Local authorities will be required to maintain a list of assets of community value. Communities will be able to place certain buildings on a 'most wanted' list and if they are put up for sale they will have time to develop a bid and raise the money.


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Councils, police and fire authorities which propose an increase in council tax beyond the ceiling set by government would automatically face a referendum of all registered voters in their area. The government says it means they will have to 'prove their case'.


A 'power of competence' would give local authorities the right to do anything that an individual can do, unless it is specifically banned by other laws. The government says this will give councils more freedom to work with others in new ways to drive down costs. Councils have asked for this power because it will 'help them get on with the job'.


The bill includes measures to give more cities the opportunity to decide whether they want a mayor. Each city will hold a referendum on local Election Day in May 2012 to decide whether to have an elected mayor for the long term.


Communities will be able to propose development which, if it meets certain safeguards and gets 50pc of support in a local referendum, will be able to be built without planning permission. It is aimed at tackling lack of building in rural areas where planning authorities restrict building but local people want new housing. Also, big developments will require early consultation with local people to let them comment and collaborate before plans are finalised.


The bill will make it clear that councillors can play an active part in local discussions and campaigns without being liable to legal challenge. This, the government says, will allow people to elect their councillor confident in the knowledge that they will be able to act on the issues they care about.


Changes to the 'community infrastructure levy' charges local councils set on developers to contribute towards local infrastructure. This includes ensuring some of the money goes directly to where developments are built.


The bill includes measures to allow councils to decide who goes on their housing waiting lists. It also includes plans to make it easier for tenants to move to other social housing and for an internet-based 'national home swap scheme'.

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