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Localism Bill 'will add to council burdens'

The coalition government’s Localism Bill has been described as a sham by Labour despite communities secretary Eric Pickles listing organisations backing the legislation

Labour said the Bill will add to burdens of councils and give more than 100 new powers over them to ministers, as the Bill receives its second reading in the House of Commons.

Pickles claimed it will move power from central government to individuals, communities and councils around England, citing support from groups ranging from civic and community groups and business leaders to housing and planning professionals and local authorities.

However shadow communities secretary Caroline Flint said it would hand Pickles new powers including setting the timing of mayoral elections and shortening the length of a mayor’s term; regulating the appointment of assistants to elected mayors; and forcing a council to switch from a committee system to a mayor and cabinet, or directing it to hold a referendum on such a change.

Other new powers she claimed it would give to him were: setting principles on what constitutes an ‘excessive’ rise in council tax and setting the threshold for petitions to trigger a local referendum.

Sources at the Department for Communities and Local Government said most of the powers cited were designed to ensure safeguards or to establish new systems.

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