The post-reshuffle DCLG
Farewell, Eric. After five years at the top of the Department for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles has been quietly moved aside by the newly emboldened Prime Minister. The loss of the colourful Mr Pickles, with his fondness for frequent bin collections and flag displays means that planners and developers have a new regime to get to know. We've taken a look at some of the key figures in the new-look DCLG.
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP
Greg Clark, the MP for Tunbridge Wells and new Secretary of State, has built up an impressive ministerial track record in Government. He has worked in DCLG and the Treasury, and was most recently responsible for Universities, Science, Cities and the Constitution in a portfolio shared between BIS and the Cabinet Office. He has a track record as a supporter of devolution, having negotiated the City Deals in the early years of the last Government, and his appointment likely heralds a renewed focus on city governance. Mr Clark is well-liked outside Conservative Party, too: his arrival has been welcomed by the Town and Country Planning Association, the Local Government Chronicle, and been described as "a positive step" by Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council.
Brandon Lewis MP
Brandon Lewis MP continues as a Minister of State, with responsibility for planning and housing. This provides stability in ministerial portfolios that had been changing hands rapidly before 2014. Mr Lewis has much to be getting on with, since the Conservatives have promised to build 200,000 new starter homes for young families and to have planning permissions in place on 90% of brownfield sites before 2020. Industry figures are already calling for details on how this will be achieved, and it is a tall order to make sure that planning and housing are seen as working well together.
James Wharton MP
The MP for Stockton South has been made Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, underlining the Government's commitment to making progress on its vision of "a collection of northern cities – sufficiently close to each other that combined they can take on the world." He's on the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party, having tried to pass a Private Member's Bill to introduce an EU referendum, so bringing him into the tent might be a useful way of making sure he toes the Government line. With Greg Clark as the Secretary of State, and the personal attention of the Chancellor, driving the Northern Powerhouse is clearly a policy priority for the new Government, so Mr Wharton will be keen to impress.
We've taken a look at who'll be setting planning and housing policy, and supervising devolution and local authorities, from now on.
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