Government challenged over 'ground up' change in local communities

Government challenged over 'ground up' change in local communities

By staff writers
9 Nov 2010

Some 50 national civic organisations have called on Decentralisation Minister, Greg Clark MP, to respond to ideas put forward by communities and councils over a year ago through the Sustainable Communities Act.

The partners in the Local Works coalition say that this is a test as to whether the coalition government's 'Big Society' rhetoric has any substance.

Amongst the radical new ideas put forward were proposals for more powers to councils to protect local shops, post offices and public services.

Many of the ideas, if agreed by the government, will help communities weather current harsh economic conditions, reverse community decline and promote local sustainability.

However, it has now been well over a year since the ideas were submitted under the Act. Thousands of people got involved in a radical new ‘bottom up’ process and there is grave concern that they are becoming disillusioned. Local Works, the coalition that campaigned for the Act, have written a giant ‘letter’ to the Decentralisation Minister, Greg Clark urging the government to act expeditiously.

Local Works National Co-ordinator, Steve Shaw, explained: “This is the first concrete test of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’. Thousands of people got involved in the exciting new ‘bottom up’ process that is the Sustainable Communities Act.

"People put forward many exciting ideas for government action and assistance to reverse community decline and promote local sustainability such as ways to protect local shops, Post Offices, local trade and local public services.

"But it has been over a year since these ideas came forward and nothing has been announced. People are getting fed up.We call on the government to deal with these ideas urgently,” he said

The Sustainable Communities Act became law in October 2007 following a 5 year campaign run by Local Works, a coalition of over 130 national organisations, including the Women’s Institute, Age UK, Friends of the Earth and CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).

The Act is radical because ideas for government action are generated at local level, not in Whitehall. The government are then legally required not just to consult, but to co-operate and try and reach agreement on the implementation of those ideas. The Act is the first truly ‘ground up’ law ever in the UK.

The full list of ideas is available on the Local Works website: www.localworks.org

[Ekk/3]

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