The edifice of the Conservative party’s commitment to decentralisation slipped again today with news that the Tories will “reclaim power over planning decisions.” The move comes on the back of reports last week that David Cameron plans to give “ministers more power over [the] Civil Service” and centralise Government communication with the media inside Number 10.
In a speech on decentralising power given to Imperial College in June, David Cameron said:
“And at the heart of our programme for government will be our intention to change fundamentally the balance of power between the citizen and the state so that ultimately it’s people in control of their government, not the other way round …
“This is progressive Conservatism in action, a traditional suspicion of state power combined with a clear grasp of the modern world producing the right approach, and the right plan of action to increase personal freedom and political accountability, restore trust, and help bring about the new politics we need so badly.”
But the Independent today report that:
“Ministers would decide whether major planning applications should go ahead if the Conservative Party wins the general election, despite David Cameron’s pledge to reduce ‘big government’.
“A Tory policy paper, passed to The Independent, says that the relevant secretary of state would take the final decision on projects such as nuclear power stations, wind farms, airport extensions and major roads.”
The Times last week reported that:
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“Mr Maude is said to be thinking of giving ministers one [special adviser] each, supplemented by a separate pool of advisers, who would be based at No 10.
“Only advisers from the central pool would be authorised to speak to the media, ‘spinning’ policy proposals and giving David Cameron control over the message going out to voters.”