The Government has today published the Localism Bill, one of the most significant pieces of legislation it is ever likely to bring forward.
The Bill is evidence of the Government's commitment to shift power from Whitehall to local communities.
It will give local councils a general power of competence, allowing them to do anything which is not specifically prohibited by law rather than having to rely on clearly defined powers as at present.
But it doesn't just empower local councils - it gives power directly to local communities. They will be given a legal right to buy community assets that are threatened with closure like pubs, libraries and shops and a legal right of challenge to run council services. They will be given the power to require their council to hold a referendum if it is planning a significant increase in Council Tax - something that would have been very useful in Croydon when the Labour Council forced through a 27% increase seven or eight years ago - and indeed to instigate local referendums on any issue.
The Bill will also reform the planning system, giving local people the right to shape the development of their communities instead of the top-down system we have at present.
And these are only a few of the measures in the Bill. Britain today is one of the most centralised countries in the world. This Bill is going to change that for good.