Local Works is an Unlock Democracy project to encourage communities to make the most of the Sustainable Communities Act. In an email to supporters they announced a campaign to get local people to encourage their council to opt-in to the act.
In June, we reversed the government’s plans to weaken the Sustainable Communities Act and got them to make regulations that strengthen it.
The Sustainable Communities Act will only help you and your community IF your council now chooses to opt in and use it. But it is not compulsory for them to do so.
There have already been some great results from the Act: For example people in Sheffield have used the Act to protect local Post Offices from closure and increase their usage.
Other results from the Act have been for rate relief to help small businesses and promote local jobs; allowing rates collected from renewable energy schemes to be reinvested into the local area and ending the practice of excessive building by developers in residential gardens.
Our communities continue to decline at an alarming rate – one in six shops lies empty. The results above show we can use the Act not only to stop that decline, but to actually reverse it.
The Act is the only mechanism that can make government take action to help our communities. It has seeded the potential for real change. However, that potential will only be realised if our councils get involved too. So I am asking for your help.
When your council gets involved, you and your community can then put your own ideas forward for new government action to reverse community decline and create truly sustainable communities.
Your council, if it uses the Act, has a duty under it to not merely consult local people but to try to reach agreement with them on what proposals for action will be submitted to central government.
From the Unlock Democracy website:
Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform society would like to invite you to a conference with a twist; this time, you, our activists, will be invited to tell us who should speak and what theyll be speaking about.
We’re planning a day that’ll be jam-packed with speakers, workshops, discussions and meet and greet sessions.
On the 20th of October, activists for democracy from all around the country will gather in Birmingham to share ideas, tips, and thoughts about how we can all make our campaigns more successful.
Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform society know that our activists are in the best place to know what their needs are, and how we can cater to them. Thats why we really want you to get engaged in helping us to help you.
The next meeting of the Sheffield for Democracy Steering Group will be on Sunday 23rd September, from 3pm-5pm at The Old Queens Head public house, Sheffield.
All supporters are welcome to attend.
Following our successful joint event with Sheffield City Council on proposed changes to Local Government, the Sheffield for Democracy Steering Group has drafted a response, included below.
We welcome comments and suggestions; in particular, we invite you to make your own representations. Please reply to email@example.com by Friday 5th October 2012.
1. We held a public meeting, jointly organised by ourselves and Sheffield City Council, attended by over 50 people; our response is informed by their opinions.
2. Our response overall is to recognise the significance of the proposals, described by some as a Magna Carta for Local Government. They would create a very different basis for the relation between national and local government, which would demand a change in perspective, attitude and culture. It would mean national politicians ceasing to feel they must act whenever there was a scandalous situation locally for which they would no longer be seen as responsible (Baby P case springs to mind).
3. We also recognise that the code contains not only statements of intent but also practical measures that would ensure the moving of power from central to local, including legal remedies.
4. On both counts, we welcome the proposals. The move to local choices, which will be different In different places, as suits the local environment and preferred ways of tackling issues, instead of a one-size–fits-all approach, seems eminently sensible and democratic. Concern has been expressed over the potential difficulties that could arise when a Local Authority has inadequate revenue or resources to meet its legal obligations.