Pickles claims riots made district councils stronger

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Last summer’s riots strengthened the hand of local authorities to take power back from central Government, Eric Pickles said.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government told a Local Government Association conference that their “leadership” after the disturbances had made a good impression on the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

With reforms to local government being introduced in the wake of the Government’s spending cuts, he claimed councils’ strong performance would help to boost their power.

During a question and answer session, Mr Pickles told the conference: “If there is anything that came out of the riots that was positive it was how local government leadership, politicians and officers, dealt with the aftermath.”

He went on: “I know it (the reform process) is a very big ask and I know we are moving into a different type of territory but being involved in a local council is going to be a lot bigger deal than when you first got involved in local council.”

Last November a Localism Bill was passed which gives greater powers to councils and communities over housing and planning.

A Local Government Finance Bill is being discussed which will allow councils to keep some of the business rates paid by local firms. Labour has criticised the changes.