Southend Standard Column

During the summer recess, in addition to attending lots of different constituency events, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the achievements that the Coalition Government has delivered. By way of example, I have detailed some of the achievements from the Department of Communities and Local Government, led by our own Essex Member of Parliament, Eric Pickles.

The Government has cut local taxes for families and firms by working with councils to freeze council tax for two years and cut business rates for small firms and small shops by doubling their rate relief for two and a half years. 330,000 small firms are paying no rates at all thanks to this holiday.

The Government have abolished unelected regional government - quangos and the proposals for the regionalisation of the fire service have been scrapped. We have axed the Standards Board which fuelled petty complaints against councillors. The police have new powers to investigate and punish the rare cases of genuine town hall corruption.

We have supported home ownership and helped homeowners by abolishing the expensive red tape of Home Information Packs. Increase the Right to Buy discounts to £75,000 and supported home ownership and construction through the FirstBuy, helping first-time buyers and NewBuy schemes, helping people without a large deposit. We have also prioritised armed forces for social housing and first time buyer schemes.

We also supported the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee by cutting Whitehall and municipal red rape on holding street parties.

Finally the Government has devolved power to local communities by giving councils stronger powers on licensing to tackle the alcohol fuelled violence that is evidenced in town centres at night. We have opened up councils’ books with a new era of town hall transparency with greater local autonomy for councils being accompanied by stronger local accountability and legislated for new community rights to stop the closure of local community facilities and powers for local voluntary groups to run local services.