Azara Blog: The UK is allegedly too centralised

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Date published: 2005/05/21

The Cambridge Evening News says:

David Howarth believes there is enough imagination and ability in Cambridge to tackle the city's problems - but the centralisation of power in Whitehall is stifling creativity and innovation.

The city's MP said he will use his time in Westminster to try and put power back into local hands.

He said: "People in Cambridge have the ability and ideas to solve our problems. What they lack is the means to do so because the system is so centralised.

"The main thing I can speak up for is to encourage the Government to decentralise power. We don't have enough local responsibility."

Public transport is one key areas that Mr Howarth, 46, will focus on. He describes it as central to Cambridge's problems, saying the system is that of a "small market town".

He said: "We need a system that can cope over the next 50 years. We are seeing 'bit by bit' change with schemes that cannot cope. It is vitally important to have public transport schemes planned and going in before there's a major increase in housing.

"National Government sees the A14 as part of a network that gets freight from the East coast to the Midlands and the North West," he added.

"They don't see it as part of the transport system for the area - Cambridge is 'in the way' of this national route. We need to change that emphasis, what is important is how the local transport system works."

Mr Howarth supports moving freight from road to rail plus more investment in public transport.

Infrastructure and affordable housing were also key problems. The MP blames the way local government is financed.

"The county council has to go cap in hand to central Government. Even though this area generates a huge amount of wealth we are not allowed to spend it. Central Government tries to manage everything from London."

Well quite a lot of that makes sense. But the idea that transfer of power from Whitehall to Cambridge is going to improve life in Cambridge is a joke. Cambridge is run by a Lib Dem clique, and they are not any more accountable to most citizens of Cambridge than is the national government. In particular they have very fixed ideas that favour the rich people who live near the centre of Cambridge at the expense of the non-rich who live elsewhere, and in particular people who live in north Cambridge and also the villages near Cambridge. At least national government treats all of Cambridge and the surrounding area as a single blob. And the idea that "even though this area generates a huge amount of wealth we are not allowed to spend it" is ridiculous. One of the points of national government is to redistribute money from rich to poor areas in the country, and the Lib Dems, of all people, ought to support that.

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