What will a new Prime Minister ever do for Local Government?
The chaos of resignations that preceded Boris’ departure from Number Ten had at least one benefit, which was the return of Greg Clark as the Secretary of State for Local Government. Greg held the post a few years back, after which he moved to BEIS, where he carried on some of his work – particularly around devolution.
Sadly, his tenure might be very short lived, but I hope that whoever replaces Boris as PM has a serious thought about keeping Greg in the role. I worked with Greg during my time as Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, finalising the Cambridge City Deal and he impressed me. He is a clear believer in devolution and was the mastermind behind the creation of the Elected Mayors and Combined Authorities. Whilst those structures are not perfect, they certainly have started to make a positive difference in most of the areas where they exist; in particular in getting money and decisions made at a more local level – something that is absolutely critical given that we are often cited as the most centralised Nation in the Western World.
In his role as part of a caretaker Government there is little that Greg can do to make a positive change, but it would be great to see his thinking evolve a bit more once we have a new PM. In a department that has had twenty different secretaries of state in twenty years, bringing a previous incumbent back might also give some stability.