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July 8th 2011

Lords back Ai Director’s critique on Localism Bill

On 28th June, Lords from all political sides joined together to criticize the government’s proposals in Part 2 of the Localism Bill, quoting Ai Director Jeremy Smith’s criticism and critique first made in February 2011, in an article in Municipal Journal, “Fog over Parliament” .

Under the government’s proposals, ministers would decide whether and how much to require local authorities to pay to central government, in the event of a fine from the European Court of Justice, which the minister decides they are responsible for.  In his article, Jeremy had explained (a) how the government had misunderstood the relevant EU Treaty provisions, and (b) in particular, how the proposed clawback proposals were in breach of the principles of natural justice, with ministers being at once prosecutor, judge and co-defendant! Continue Reading

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April 6th 2011

Local partnerships for international development

Jeremy Brussels

Last week Jeremy Smith was in Brussels for the launch of a new publication, “Decentralised development cooperation – European perspectives”, for which he was the main author (read on to download English and French versions of the publication).

It has been produced by Platforma, the Europe-wide network of local and regional governments for international development, to showcase the role, cost-effectiveness and value of partnerships between cities, towns and regions from Europe with their counterparts in lower-income countries across the world.  Jeremy’s warm thanks go to Lucie Guillet and Sandra Ceciarini, of the Platforma and CEMR secretariats, for their very considerable help in this work. Continue Reading

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March 18th 2011

Local governments creating their future together in Sarajevo


On 10th to 11th March 2011, the symbolically-resonant city of Sarajevowas the venue for the biggest-ever gathering of elected mayors, councillors and senior local government officials from across south-east Europe.

Over 1000 people came together for the NEXPO Municipal Fair and conference, organised by NALAS, the network of local government associations of the region.  Ai Director Jeremy Smith worked with NALAS in the organisation of the event, in moderating conference sessions, and in drafting the final conclusions, set out in the Sarajevo Declaration. Continue Reading

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January 11th 2011

Helping create the City of 2030

From 16th to 21st November 2010, Mexico City hosted a huge gathering of city mayors and leaders from across the globe, for the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. Organised by United Cities and Local Governments, the Summit discussed the big crises and challenges facing cities and communities, looked ahead to the City of 2030, and debated ideas for a greater input by local governments into global governance – on issues as diverse as climate change, Millennium Development Goals, and “city diplomacy”.  I was there to help UCLG – which I had helped set up 7 years ago – develop the themes and concepts for the Summit programme together, and to draft the final outcome documents. Continue Reading

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June 28th 2010

Of Paris, the Council of Europe, local self-government, and just a touch of football

The Council of Europe – the not-the-European-Union organisation of wider Europe (47 countries at last count) – is best known for the work of its Court of Human Rights, and has a general remit to promote democracy and human rights.  It is also in the news just now because its Parliamentary Assembly has voted unanimously against a general banning of the burqa or nijab, and criticized the recent Swiss law against the building of minarets. (By the way, the football bit  is at the end of this post!)

I was back in Paris last week as “independent expert” for a Council of Europe (CoE) working group meeting on how best it can coordinate its work on local and regional democracy. Continue Reading

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