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.
Last week the Coalition Government published its response to the consultation on its plans for implementing Individual Voter Registration. Members of the public and democracy groups had raised concerned about certain provisions in the proposals, which included removing the current legal requirement for people to register by introducing an opt-out. The Government have made the following changes to their proposals:
- The Coalition Government will now hold a full household canvas in spring 2014, deferring the planned canvass from autumn 2013.
- The new right to “opt out” of registration will not be introduced in its originally proposed form; People who wish to opt-out may be required to fill out a separate form or the opt-out may be dropped altogether.
- The government plans to consult more widely on whether or not to make non-registration an offence.
Unlock Democracy have been a key part of the campaign to improve the proposals and they had this to say:
This is an entirely welcome step forward and we are pleased the government has listened to the concerns it received about its original proposals. More than 750 responded to our push to get people to respond directly to the consultation, while over 2,100 people used our website to write to their MP about the issue.
Unlock Democracy has always supported the introduction of individual elector registration itself as an important tool for tackling voter fraud. Our concerns with the government proposals have always been over the pace the government planned to introduce the new system and the introduction of the “opt out” which we believe would have a negative impact in terms of both voter participation and the jury system.
Read more: Government backtracks on new voter registration rules (Unlock Democracy).
Peter Facey, Director of Unlock Democracy, recently gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Lords Reform to make the case for an elected second chamber.
In a recent blog post Peter said:
We’ve outlined our argument in the written evidence (pdf) we sent to the committee. The House of Lords is, first and foremost, a political chamber and makes political decisions. Those decisions should be ultimately accountable to the people, not to party leaders. The arguments for the status quo are extremely flawed: Just 46% of crossbenchers can be considered current experts in their field – 11% of the chamber as a whole.
Sheffield for Democracy is campaigning locally for a fully elected House of Lords and has recently delivered a petition signed by local people to local MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is responsible for constitutional reform. We believe that now is a real chance to deliver the fully democratically elected parliament which was promised over 100 years ago in the Parliament Act 1911. All three major parties promised Lords reforms in their 2010 manifestos and we must campaign to make sure that they keep to those commitments.