EMPOWERING local communities was the theme of a conference at Chester Racecourse.
Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, was keynote speaker at the event, hosted by law firm Hill Dickinson, to discuss The Localism Bill.
Ms Bruce, a member of the Public Committee for the Localism Bill, outlined the Bill’s aims in front of a 100-strong audience mainly from property companies and councils.
She discussed changes that will introduce elected mayors into 12 English cities and give local authorities more control over finances, planning and social housing.
Offering an alternative perspective, Iain Jenkinson, director of planning, development and regeneration from commercial property advisers GVA, spoke in support of the Bill’s overriding ‘Big Society’ theme, but warned that ‘Localism’ must not become ‘parochialism’.
A debate followed the speeches when the audience put questions to an expert panel comprising the MP and Mr Jenkinson as well as Cllr Mike Jones, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Matt Crompton, joint managing director of urban regeneration business Muse Developments and John Holmes, head of planning with Hill Dickinson.