The draft Localism Bill includes the provision for a new right - the right for community and voluntary bodies, parish councils and authority employees to bid to take over the running of local authority services. This “Community Right to Challenge” will give these groups the ability to bring their proposals to the attention of the local council and require it to give them proper consideration.

So what happens if a local council accepts an expression of interest? Well, the draft Bill says that the council “must carry out a procurement exercise” relating to provision of the service. But why? This rules out uncontested contracts, grant arrangements or joint ventures, which may each make a lot of sense in certain circumstances.

So as it stands, the Right to Challenge will merely act as a trigger (or if you prefer, Trojan horse) for opening up markets to any willing provider. Many people, including most of our politicians, support the opening up of public service markets anyway. But in which case, why not just open them up? Why all the rhetoric about communities, voluntary groups and mutuals? And do those who lobbied for a Right to Challenge realise the implications?