Localism? It’s the residents, stupid

I watched last Sunday’s South East ‘Politics Show’ on the BBC iPlayer a day or two ago, and was pleased to see Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, newly appointed Minister for Decentralisation presenting both the Pickering Cancer Drop-in Centre, and the TN2 Community Centre in Sherwood as examples of where local people can bring projects to life if the support exists from Government, both national and local.

I’m all in favour of David Cameron’s “Big Society” approach, and have spent nearly a decade in local government fighting to give local people more influence over their own communities – even if it means (as it often does) fighting against some of the mechanics of local government to stop interference for the wrong reasons.

Which is why I was a little confused that, after Greg’s excellent film on local projects, a short interview entitled “How Local is Local” (position 54.32 on the playback) with the Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (who also happens to be a County Councillor!) commented:

“I do not want all the powers that might be delegated or devolved being ‘hoovered up’ by the County Council.  It has to be delivered at the lowest possible level within that complex of government”.

Extraordinary.  What does it have to do with any “complex of government”? I hope when David Cameron talks about devolution of power and influence, he means to communities themselves rather than either County or Borough Councils.  To slavishly claim that County, District or Borough Councils are the lowest level when there are so many excellent community groups, residents’ associations, parish and town councils and so on, is really outdated.

If we’re going local, let’s go local – to misquote another leader, ‘it’s the residents, stupid’.

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2 Responses to Localism? It’s the residents, stupid

  1. Treef says:

    Sorry to be so late with a response but I’ve only just come across your blog. I think the answer to your question concerning ‘complex of government’ is pretty simple. That statement was made by Leader of the Council Roy Bullock who is pretty conclusively proving himself to be a power mad ego maniac in the matter of the Town Hall, Assembly Hall, Library and Museum, and who will obviously not want to relinquish one jot of power at either county or local level. However, he and William Benson are already feeling, I trust, some measure of the wrath of the people of Tunbridge Wells in this matter, which is just a small taste of what is to come. Any help from local councillors will of course be greatly appreciated, but the people, when roused, can be a very powerful force for, at the very least, a much more transparent democracy. I have to tell you that William Barnes was given a real roasting by members of the Civic Society and the public last Thursday. Yrs, a very disgruntled resident of Tunbridge Wells, Treef.

  2. people seem to often overlook the work that many volunteers do for there community many of them don’t even think of it as volunteering its just them doing there bit

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