The economy cannot rebuild without the full participation of our 187 districts which cover the territory outside the metropolitan centres, helped by our county councils, local enterprise partnerships and other local agencies. This is because we know our local economies like no one else – at a level that business and residents recognise and relate to. Our manifesto sets out how we can advance the health and wealth of the nation. It has five offers and five asks:
- As guardians of the public realm, we will make our spaces and places clean, safe and secure – adapting our town centres, remodelling our open spaces, promoting health and community.
- Through exercising all our statutory and regulatory duties we will help stabilise employment and provide a permissive environment to help businesses pivot towards a new future.
- We will revitalise health in the community. We will be at the heart of strategies to promote mental and physical health that keep people out of our stretched health and care system, easing hardship and enabling volunteers.
- We will take the opportunity to grow a new green, resilient and inclusive future.
- We will bring our partners together, mobilised around a single vision for our towns, cities and communities.
Our five asks are:
- To mobilise this power in place we need greater flexibility in how we discharge the range of our duties.
- We need the range of investment funds with restrictions lifted and flexibilities granted.
- We need access to cheap borrowing via the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).
- We need protections for our local planning system, suspending the five-year land supply.
- We need a sustainable financial settlement for our services, which incentivises housebuilding and economic growth in the years ahead.
This crisis has proven once again that local works. Bigger is not better. Our national recovery will only happen with hundreds of local ones.
Cllr John Fuller OBE is chairman of the District Councils’ Network