Cllr Harry Phibbs, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement at Hammersmith and Fulham Council, discusses how scrapping ‘red tape’ could cut costs for local authorities, simplify local service delivery and help cut public service spending.
I am a councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham where our council officers are decent, intelligent men and women who wish to serve the residents of our borough.
But they are distracted from doing so by the requirement to abide by a vast raft of useless and time-consuming regulations.
That is why H&F Council has just revealed a list 105 ways for central Government to cut red tape and regulations. If implemented, this list would free local authorities from the ‘ball and chain’ of regulatory burdens and give them more scope to get on with the job themselves.
With October’s Comprehensive Spending Review expected to be the toughest in a generation – huge savings could be made and cuts to front-line services avoided if these pointless regulations were ditched.
In fact, we believe that our list could save at least 9 million council hours a year across Britain or £200 million in cash.
So, we are calling for the planning system to be simplified by scrapping numerous pointless regulations that cost the taxpayer millions of pounds. For example, the sustainability appraisal of a Local Development Framework documents is unnecessarily complex and often generates long turgid documents that add little to the process.
We also want to free local schools from excessive central control. A new piece of school legislation has been issued from central government every other school day for the last ten years!
The Government should also scrap expensive and laborious legislation where councils have to waste money and time issuing special licenses to tattoo parlours, ear piercers and acupuncturists. The license system for tables and chairs outside restaurants is also unnecessarily duplicated too.
There is in any event a law to stop obstruction – which means cafes are not allowed where the pavement is narrower that 1.8 metres.
We also want the regulation that states that schools, churches and village halls must apply for a licence in order to hold an event involving music to be abolished. Currently, the organisers of such events are required to complete in triplicate a ten page form, most of which is irrelevant.
Sometimes regulations are contradictory. Building Control rules Part L stipulate making buildings as air tight as possible. Yet Part F insists on vents.
The state of the nation’s finances make it imperative for the government to release local authorities from the shackles of bureaucracy and regulations. Councils need more power to make the decisions that affect their residents. There is no place for reams of red tape and officialdom if we are serious about cutting the nation’s debt. Britain is heading for bankruptcy unless we all start making radical changes that can truly deliver better services for less money.
We all need to wake up and smell the economy.
This country has been on the road to financial ruin but billions of pounds could be wiped off our debt by taking a common sense approach and scrapping the myriad of law, rules and regulations that scupper effective government at local level. H&F Council has torn down layer upon layer of bureaucracy and delivered more for less. Let’s now apply that thinking to the nation as a whole.
You can read the full list of 105 ways to cut red tape at www.lbhf.gov.uk