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Government plans to block local decisions discussed in York Council

Plans by the Government to dictate to councils how they invest money are to be debated by councillors in York this Thursday.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has recently consulted on moves to impose restrictive rules on councils’ investment and procurement policies.  If implemented, the changes could mean City of York Council cannot use procurement or investment policy to achieve objectives like supporting local suppliers and boosting apprenticeships.
Labour’s Councillor Danny Myers will propose the motion.  He said:
“These proposed regulations are akin to twisting the council’s arm up its back to say how we must invest money, which is the complete opposite of localism.  We are still struggling to understand how such a proposal has got this far, given that it rides roughshod over the role of local councils in reflecting the priorities of the people it serves.
“Local government procures around £12 billion of goods and services each year, much of it from the UK, and some from the global supply chain. It is unclear at present whether the Government’s proposals will allow Councils the power to procure contracts from ethical providers and companies that prioritise social, environmental or localised factors”.
It has been questioned whether under such restrictions it would have been illegal for councils to take action through their procurement and investment policies against Apartheid in South Africa.  Conservatives’ wish to control local government has led Ministers to using incendiary rhetoric against those wishing to use their investment and procurement policies to effect change, labelling them ‘municipal militancy that threatens national security’.
Coun. Myers continued:
“This is a damaging and extremely anti-democratic proposal.  I have been contacted by residents concerned that in future, local councillors may not be able to remove support and divest from industries such as fossil-fuels and tobacco, concerns that Labour councillors share. The Government could also hamper local efforts to promote the principles of fair-trade.
“Despite all the talk about devolution, the Conservative Government is centralising decision making when it decides that councils cannot be trusted to tow its line.  This is wrong and is why we are highlighting this important issue so that the Government’s plans are challenged before they become set in stone”. 

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