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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Pickles delayed by Whitehall bickering

As part of the Localism Bill published yesterday, the Government said it would steer the country’s 12 biggest cities towards having all-powerful executive mayors.

We had previously been told that the powers conferred to the new mayors would be defined when the Bill was published – and that they would be more influential than council leaders and mayors as defined under previous legislation.

But yesterday ministers failed to define exactly what powers they would have – instead saying things would become clear as the Localism Bill moved through Parliament.

The reason for this, I’m told by a source, is that when the draft Bill was sent round other Whitehall departments some objected to the level of influence being handed to the new mayors.

In particular they objected to powers which gave the mayors control of an area of policy, health for example, which came under their jurisdiction.

Bickering over just what powers the mayors should get was delaying the already delayed Bill and so Eric Pickles kicked the issue into the long grass to get the legislation published before Christmas.

No doubt it’ll come back to haunt him in the New Year.

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