English local elections: Ed Davey urges local funds for green projects

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Sir Ed has been out campaigning ahead of May's local elections

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has urged more council involvement in climate policies, as he launched his party's local elections campaign.

Sir Ed said local authorities would be handed around a third of the £150bn the party has proposed for green projects in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

In a speech, he said the future of the environment was "on the ballot" for the 6 May polls.

He also urged ministers to cut taxes on smaller firms to help them recover.

He added Conservative-run councils had a "shockingly poor" record on climate issues, including over local public transport and recycling schemes.

By contrast, he said Liberal Democrat-run councils had "always made the environment a top priority".

Speaking ahead of a campaign visit to Watford, he said: "Government should be backing local communities everywhere to take the environment seriously."

He added that the party would ringfence £48bn from its three-year £150bn Green Recovery Plan - announced last June - for spending by local councils.

The party says the plan should fund jobs training in green industries, home insulation, tree-planting schemes and the move towards renewable energy.

He also renewed his party's call for the government to slash the amount of employment tax small businesses have to pay to employ their staff.

The Lib Dems say Employment Allowance - an amount small firms can knock off their annual national insurance bill - should go up from £4,000 to £16,000.

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Note: This lookup covers national elections in Scotland and Wales, the Hartlepool by-election, as well as council and mayoral elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in England and Wales. There may be parish council elections or council by-elections where you are. Check your local council website for full details. Last updated: May 11, 2021, 12:35 GMT

Sir Ed also criticised government plans to change the planning system in England by replacing case-by-case assessments with a new zoning system.

Local residents would get a say on the 10-year plans underpinning the zones, but their ability to comment on individual applications would be curtailed.

Ministers say the changes will speed up the planning process, and prevent viable developments being derailed by a "small minority" of vocal opponents.

But Sir Ed said the proposals would "silence the role of local communities" in their local environment.

The 6 May elections in England will include polls for district and county councils, police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and city mayors, including in London.

Local elections that were postponed last year have been combined with those originally scheduled to take place in 2021, meaning a bumper crop of voting.

PCC elections will also take place in Wales, along with Welsh Parliament elections. Elections for the Scottish Parliament will take place in Scotland.