Not many people know this….yet…..
BUT the Government is putting through parliament a Localism Bill.
The rhetoric is: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/decentralisationguide
“…. a radical shift of power from the centralised state to local communities, and describes the six essential actions required to deliver decentralisation down through every level of government to every citizen. In particular, we focus on the Localism Bill, which will provide the legislative foundation for change.”
“From Big Government to Big Society
The Big Society is what happens whenever people work together for the common good. It is about achieving our collective goals in ways that are more diverse, more local and more personal.
The best contribution that central government can make is to devolve power, money and knowledge to those best placed to find the best solutions to local needs: elected local representatives, frontline public service professionals, social enterprises, charities, co-ops, community groups, neighbourhoods and individuals.”
That is the government message.
What it amounts to in practical terms is that each area gets together a Neighbourhood Forum which produces a Neighbourhood Plan. Which should have some influence on planning in future.
Alarm bells: any 20 people can come forward and propose they form a Neighbourhood Forum. Including local business people or ‘people who would like to live in the area’. Ie carte blanche for anyone who wants influence.
Second alarm bell: There is a presumption that development will be allowed. The word ‘sustainable’ has been inserted before development.
The ethos is that Local Authorities have been holding back free enterprise. Ie developers. Which gives a certain context to the idea of cosy genuine community Localism.
However to be contructive….
Fortunately in Kentish Town we are blessed with two things:
1. A number of well organised Residents Associations and Amenity Groups – like Conservation Area Advisory Committees.
2. An existing organisation, Kentish Town Road Action, which has been speaking for the whole area for some years very effectively and is run by the highly energetic and effective Caroline Hill.
IARA is a part of Kentish Town Road Action and among our successes have been the defeat of Paddy Power’s plan to open a huge betting office next to the Post Office, defeat of McDonald’s 24 hour licence application, involvement in the paving of the High Street, the improvements at the top of the High Street, removal of illegal signage and endless battles about unlawful changes of use and licences.
On Localism Caroline has been very active and called together local groups who cover most of Kentish Town in a briefing meeting with an expert on localism and town planning in April. That was circulated to the members and some attended.
Following that we agreed that Caroline should go ahead and register Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum with Camden in our names.
Last Thursday a meeting took place in Kentish Town community centre in Greenwood Place and we gave notice of this to members. Several of us attended and we made progress in confirming the area covered, principles of a constitution and the next steps to be taken. Two local councillors attended, Paul Braithwaite and Georgia Gould.
Minutes will be posted soon and the draft constitution. In the meantime we will post the notes that Caroline drafted about the whole project and the notes David drafted about constitution issues.