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The Campaign for Sustainable Communities Bill and Cornwall
 
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Fulup le Breton



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:04 pm    Post subject: The Campaign for Sustainable Communities Bill and Cornwall Reply with quote

The Campaign for Sustainable Communities Bill and Cornwall

What does anybody know about this then, a chance for Kernow?: http://www.localworks.org/

Quote:
Local Works is the coalition campaign for the Sustainable Communities Bill. The Bill is currently making its way through Parliament and has cross party support from over 400 MPs (a huge majority).

If made law the Bill will empower local people to make their own decisions and to drive government policies on sustainable communities.

Central government will have a duty to reverse "Ghost Town Britain" - the ongoing decline of local economies and local services and facilities and the knock-on social and environmental impacts. But, importantly, the Bill sets up a mechanism so that the actions of government are not decided centrally in London, but rather by local communities themselves.


We need your support to see the Bill made law by summer this year, so please:
SIGN UP!
(it's free!)

Contact Details

Address:
94 White Lion St
London N1 9PF

Telephone:
020 7833 9898

Email:
info@localworks.org

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Fulup le Breton



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This comes from Peter Davidson a member of Unlock Democracy, hope it helps and please feel free to answer his questions on our local government set up.

Quote:
The Bill in its present form empowers lower tiers of governance to draw up plans to enhance and defend local community infrastructures - shops, post offices, bus services (the list is endless)

Primarily the main focus of such plans will be individual local councils although each council will be obliged under the terms of the bill to engage in a genuine consultative process with groupings within their area of jurisdiction - this might be parish councils (in rural localities) or town councils (in more urban areas), community organisations of all kinds and even individual citizens if they have some specifically local initiative to promote.

The Bill is unique in turning the tide in favour of bottom up governance by obliging central government to allow local communities to drive policy rather than the usual arrangement whereby local communities, through formal representation, have dialogue with central government through some kind of consultative process and then the minister in question makes a central decision, in isolation of local communities, more often than not following advice from faceless experts or civil servants. Hardly what can be described as open or transparent forms of governance, responsive to the needs of individual communities?

The Bill will also oblige central government to open the financial book for each local territory, thus allowing all who are interested to see how much public money is allocated to their area. This not only includes the obvious central grant that makes up 75% of each local authority budget but also the vast amounts of public money spent in our name by unaccountable Non-Departmental Public Bodies (or QUANGOS as they are more popularly known). I remember seeing somewhere that these bodies spent £167 billion (yes billion!) of taxpayers (i.e. our) money last financial year. Such public financial visibility will undoubtedly increase levels of scrutiny and electoral accountability.

From a Kernow perspective it all depends on the levels of cooperation between local authorities in the County. I am not sure what the local government arrangements are in Cornwall. How many unitary authorities are there in the County? If there are what is the relationship between them and the County Council and the district councils within Cornwall County?

Under the terms of the Bill the issues that councils will be able to draw up plans for remain specifically local. If the planning begins to encroach on areas of competency normally reserved for central government, ministers can successfully challenge them.

Hope this outline explanation helps to flesh out some of the details of the proposed bill.

Remember that as I write the bill remains prospective. The Local Communities Department has now indicated (via Phil Woolas) that they will not oppose the bill but there are still some contentious elements that campaigners would like to see retained - specifically these includes powers related to the control of money (very important).

The bill passes to the report stage on June 15th.

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Alderley Edge
NW.England

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Fulup le Breton



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2007 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just come across some interesting comments written on the Talk Democracy forum that might interest Cornish campaigners.

James Graham of Unlock Democracy writes:

Quote:
Touch wood, but the Sustainable Communities Bill may be within weeks of becoming an Act.

Within Charter 88 certainly, the campaign for the Bill has caused some controversy as some people have complained that the role of a democratic reform organisation is not to campaign for "post offices and real ale". This however is to misunderstand the point of the Bill which is to get local authorities to draw up local sustainability plans and does not have prescriptive measures within it about how this is to be achieved.

Not merely another consultation, the Bill requires local authorities to set up a representative panel which must agree on the plan sent to central government. In turn, central government is required to draw up an action plan, spelling out how it intends to implement the proposals brought forward by local authorities.

What does sustainability have to do with democratic renewal? Well, as Section 1(3) of the Bill makes clear:

“In this section “social well-being” includes participation in civic and political activity”

In short, this is real opportunity to mobilise support for a whole range of democratic renewal measures. The ERS may wish to try to muster support for electoral reform at a local and parish level. Our Say may wish to make the case for citizens' initiatives. The Cornish may well wish to use this to make the case for a Cornish National Assembly. It won't guarantee action, but the government will have a statutory obligation to come up with reasons for why they refuse.

If the Bill becomes an Act (and some last minute shenanigans may still derail it), then you will no doubt be hearing more about this. But I thought I'd raise it now as the implications for the wider democracy sector could be immense.


Another contributor, Tim Pendry, writes:

Quote:
This bill could be very important but it will probably be derailed on the ground by the malign incompetence of local authority officers and dim councillors. There will be a lot of paper-shuffling, fake consultations, plans which have been signed off by unaccountable NGOs who represent no-one ... usual stuff.

My view is that strong elected accountable mayors are now necessary to rip this system to pieces in order to rebuild it - and only strong executive action is going to make this bill meaningful: otherwise it is likely to be a mere distraction for the likeable nerds who now dominate discussion of grassroots politics.

But I do agree that 'professional' lobby groups now have the opportunity to engage in guerrilla action using this bill until (like the Freedom of Information Act) the establishment has to concede or 'back-reform' it to something more manageable for them (and so expose its fake aspects).

The more pressure, intellectual and organisational, placed on flaccid officers and second rate elected representatives at every level, the more the system will creak and break - and then something really important will have to be done about things.

So more power to the elbow of the various organisations - just don't believe it is more than an attempt to confuse words with action as far as the implementers at ground level in the system are concerned.

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frenchie



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“This is not just another consultation. This Act gives you power to protect and enhance your community, we urge you to use it.”
(David Drew MP (Labour), Nick Hurd MP (Conservative) and Julia Goldsworthy MP (Lib Dem) that lead the cross party campaign for the Act in Parliament)

On 23 October 2007 the Sustainable Communities Act became law. It is a remarkable piece of legislation: for the first time we have an Act of Parliament that discards the usual top-down decision making and also the nonsense that ‘consultation’ by the government is somehow empowering (when the opposite is the case as most people know).

This Act is special because it establishes for the first time a co-operative method of decision making, so that all the decisions are no longer made at the centre.

It is an Act that can empower citizens and will give effect to what the sponsors argued for the 5 years of the campaign that:

‘citizens and councils are the experts on their own problems and the solutions to them’

It is, as Government Minister Phil Woolas told the House of Commons on 15 June 2007 one of the most important such Acts in the last 40 years because as he said: ‘I genuinely believe that it will change the relationships in British politics’.

The Sustainable Communities Act gives you power over decisions which affect your life.

http://www.localworks.org/
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the localworks.org guide pdf.

‘That local authorities are given the power (e.g. via the planning
system or via penal council tax) to prevent further holiday
homes, thus making more local housing available for people to
live in 12 months per year.

Or you could suggest that your local panel suggests in its submission to
the Secretary of State that:
Statutory powers are given to non profit-making Community Land
Trusts, which provide low cost housing for local people,
That the government should remove capital gains tax reduction from
the sale of second homes,
That councils are given the power to create a separate fund for the
revenue raised from council tax on second homes to be used for
reinvestment in local affordable housing needs.
That the Secretary of State sets targets for investment in areas where
lack of local housing is an issue. The achievement of these targets
could be achieved by an increase in the funding allocations made by
Regional Assemblies.
Your local authority is given extra powers to deal with the problem of
lack of local affordable housing, as it sees fi t.
Government action to help housing co-ops, self-build schemes and
bringing empty property into use.



More..
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Last edited by frenchie on Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the section titled "Matters to which local authorities must have regard"

Article 'M' says..

"measures to increase the use of local waste materials for the benefit of the community."

The current system where you can only add to the waste levels at your local rubbish tip, but not remove anything from it that is of use to you, is something I would like to use the power of the Act to change.

Anyone up for a free-the-shit campaign?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Section K..

"measures designed to increase community health and well being,..."

Defined as..

"“community health and well-being” means the degree to which persons resident in an area identify with that area and receive an increased quality of life as a result of the nature and the environment of the area."

How many people in Cornwall identify with the new council logo that is being imposed?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frenchie you might like to contact the Cornwall Strategic Partnership http://www.cornwallstrategicpartnership.gov.uk/ for more information on the SCA.

I got a great letter from them that might be of interest.
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