Lib Dems vote to scrap Whitehall targets

The Liberal Democrats today said they would scrap Whitehall-driven targets and pave the way for a new “renaissance” in local and regional government.

Local government spokesman Andrew Stunell said: “The Labour government has picked up from where the Tories left off by stripping more and more powers from local councils.

“Local people know best what is right and wrong in their area, not bureaucrats in Whitehall.

“Councils need to be more accountable to communities, made to run efficient services rather than wasting time and money meeting targets set in Whitehall.”

Delegates at the Lib Dem autumn conference in Brighton approved the policy paper The Power to be Different, which sets out a new covenant between central and local government.

This would be driven by fairer voting, including the single transferable vote system for local elections. Local authorities would also be given the power to scrap unaccountable quangos.

To improve their own accountability, the Lib Dems agreed long-term proposals for councils to raise three-quarters of funding locally.

The policy paper noted a one size fits all approach had failed to improve the quality of life in diverse English communities, while local authorities have a proven track record of leaving the way in addressing local issues head on.

Mr Stunell concluded: “A new covenant between local and central government is needed to make politics more relevant and responsive to voters”.

The government has already announced plans to slash red tape, with around 110 Whitehall targets to be scrapped and instead monitored with “indicators” of performance.

Andy Burnham, chief secretary to the Treasury, said in July that ministers wanted to move away from micro management and make councils, primary care trusts and service chiefs more responsive to local needs.