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‘Communities in Control’ – the bloggers’ consultation begins!

7:20 pm - November 11th 2008

by Thomas    

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A big thanks to all of you who volunteered to contribute to our series on the ‘Communities in Control’ white paper – it looks like we’re off and running!

Here’s a run-down of who’s been delegated to do what:

Don Paskini on the executive summary and the introductory chapter 1, which will be followed by…

David Keen on chapter 2 – ‘becoming active in your community’,

Justin from Chicken Yoghurt on chapter 3 – ‘access to information’,

Douglas Clark on chapter 4 – ‘having an influence’,

Andrew Adams on chapter 5 – ‘challenge (aka accountability)’,

Tony Kennick on chapter 6 – ‘redress’,

Unity from Ministry of Truth on chapter 7 – ‘standing for office’,

Kate Belgrave of Hang Bitch fame on chapter 8 – ‘ownership and control of local services’…

…finished off with a review of the process from the Liberal Conspiracy editors and where we go from there.

As we’re trying to run a tight ship please try to keep things to approx. 250-300 words per chapter as far as possible with summaries of the main facts, obstacles and proposals so that we can digest the details and more controversial aspects in the comments section – I’m sure there’s plenty for us to get our teeth stuck into.

For your pleasure here is Hazel Blears asking you to tell her what you think – as she asks, “have we got it right? have we hit the spot? Or is there more and different ideas yet to come?”

Here is a link to her ‘7-day blog’, which you may also wish to comment on.

For further perusal here are some official resources which may help you if you want to do some extra reading.

And if that isn’t enough then pageflakes lets you know what other people are saying.

So, let’s have that conversation. Get cracking!

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About the author
Thomas is an independent-minded community activist and regular commenter at Liberal Conspiracy. We don't seem to be able to get rid of him, so we thought it probably best to let him write for us.
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Story Filed Under: E-democracy ,Lib-left future ,Liberal Conspiracy ,Our democracy

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Reader comments

May I just say that my first question to Hazel would be why is the thing £33 to order and 1.8MB for download?

Does that mean the community members she has in mind are only those with a spare £33 and/or those with broadband?

I’d better calm down. I haven’t even opened the thing yet and already I’ve had it with friggn Hazel and her consultative fantasies.


Possibly, that was a negative way to kick things off.

It just does my head in a bit when the first thing I see on a document about consultation and community engagement is a price tag.

But never mind.

Starting again, wearing a smile.

Thanks to Thomas for pointing me to this – I’ll be very interested to see what people come up with.

There are two points I’d like to make, both about what the report doesn’t appear to say rather than what it does. I’ve written in more detail on my blog, so I’ll keep it brief here.

First, the paper explicitely says (Exec summary point 2):

“We want to shift power, influence and responsibility away from existing centres of power into the hands of communities and individual citizens.”

But there’s pretty much nothing in there about shifting power away from central government – by far the most powerful part of the state. Instead the report takes already-weak local authorities, which have very limited powers to raise their own money and set their own priorities, and shuffles their powers around a bit.

Secondly, the paper claims to want to use all available means to encourage people to get involved in local democracy, but completely ignores a big reason why people don’t bother to vote: that they know their vote won’t change the result because they live in a seat that’s safe for the incumbent. The corollary of that is, of course, that politicians in safe seats have much less incentive to work hard and genuinely engage with their residents.

A critical element of democracy is the ability to kick elected politicians out. We need to find some way (and it might be some form of proportional representation, or something else entirely) to minimise the number of politicians in cast-iron safe seats.

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