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Leader of Kingston Council calls on government to empower local authorities to boost local economy and address cost of living crisis

Image of busy Kingston town centre.
Kingston town centre

In the wake of the Queen’s Speech, Councillor Andreas Kirsch has called on the government to do more to enable local authorities to help families and support businesses in their communities.

Councillor Kirsch, Leader of Kingston Council,  said:

‘’I give a cautious welcome to the government's priority to grow and strengthen the economy but efforts to help ease the cost of living crisis fall woefully below what is needed. There is a lack of vision and ambition to support people in their local areas.

“It is a shame that the much needed reform of local government finances - that could provide support for thousands of cash strapped families - was nowhere to be seen. We need this now more than ever before.

“Throughout recent weeks people were telling us time and time again that the cost of living was their biggest worry. We need powers to support families and local businesses, creating jobs in our communities.  It’s so important that all local authorities should be able to fully retain business rates to boost enterprise, incentivise growth and deliver longer term financial sustainability.   

“The proposal of a British Bill of Rights is worrying. Human Rights are universal, they should not be watered down. Instead of establishing laws that limit people’s rights, we need funding for police forces that enable them to enforce already existing laws to keep people safe

“It is disappointing that there are no further solid commitments for action to address climate change, beyond investing in low carbon and energy efficient homes. We work hard to drive down carbon emissions locally, committing to a fully electric waste fleet, more charging points, a district heating network and more. We must have more national commitment to tackle this critical agenda and support our actions at a local level.     

“While more devolution of planning powers to local authorities is cautiously welcomed, I would challenge the meaningfulness of these bills to truly put local citizens at the heart of decision making in their communities. 

“Despite recognition that councils worked hard - alongside local communities and partners - in responding to the pandemic this has not been reflected in the legislation coming forward. Sadly, the government has missed a trick nationally that enables councils and partners to deliver locally.”

Published: 11th May 2022