During the election the Conservatives appeared to have been converted (or maybe, post Thatcher, reconverted)to the long established Liberal belief in powers to and trust in local government. Unfortunately the signals so far from the coalition are that this is more campaign rhetoric rather than a belief to be put into practice.
One of the economies proposed by the Treasury is that Council Tax is to be frozen for two years. This sounds reminiscent of the cartoon character who, in financially strained circumstances, decided to cut out the wife's beer. Today there is an announcement that local councils are to be forced to publish details of all items of expenditure over £500. (This pettiness from a government about to spend umpteen billions on the fictional prestige to be gained from renewing Trident.)
It seems that the bullying central state is still alive and well.