Our Independent Group members and staff have been working solidly to get the best we can from the Brexit negotiations. We have incorporated the issues you raised at conferences and in communications into the LGA priorities.
For example, we have made it clear that we need funding to be brought back to our streets and rural areas where it is needed. For the sake of the economy, we need power and money brought back to our local authorities, not held up in Whitehall or Cardiff.
EU legislation on procurement is lengthy, complex and resists local purchasing by councils. We are therefore calling for the system to be simplified and helpful to our local economies.
We also want environmental and food standards maintained.
We have been very clear that local government will need to maintain an advisory role in EU matters that are transferred to UK law. We currently have a formal advisory role in EU legislation through the Committee of the Regions (CoR) while the catchily titled, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), was set up before the EU and includes all European Countries, about a third currently outside EU membership.
The Government published its position papers prior to the third round of negotiations with the EU, but without great progress. You may have seen the wider concerns about keeping the parliamentary decision-making process transparent and inclusive in the democratic system as we know it. However real risks exist that amendments will be made without full debate and members’ ability to pursue the Government will be removed by ending judicial reviews – something many, including myself, have objected to.
In regards to progress so far, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, more commonly known as ‘the Repeal Bill’, was debated in the House of Commons this month and will now proceed to Committee Stage to have further scrutiny from MPs. In the debate the DExEU Secretary David Davis MP said that the Bill will mean that decisions and powers sit closer to individuals than ever before. The LGA will continue to work with parliamentarians to ensure the legislation reflects councils’ interests and there is no loss of powers for local government.
With our LGA briefs hopefully ringing in their ears, our MPs and Peers are working alongside LGA Members and Officers to get the best deal possible for local government.
Brexit, along with other key issues such as commercialisation and the impact of the forthcoming Budget, will be key issues for discussion when I attend the forthcoming Party Conferences and at our Group Conference taking place on 24 November at our newly refurbished offices in Westminster. I encourage you to book your free place.
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