Sustainable Communities Act
Prof. Colin Campbell will give a talk about sustainable communities before the Act is introduced.
An introduction to the Sustainable Communities Act was given by Zoe Burns and Professor Colin Campbell.
§ ZB: By taking part in this process, you can gain more power for your local community. This is the only act I am aware of that is driven from the bottom-up. It recognises that the local community knows best how to manage its own area.
§ The Act takes into account economic, social and environmental factors. We are asking you to come up with ideas. Parish Councils can’t use this, only local authorities. There are several possible uses.
§ We have tried to publicise this process as much as possible, tried to get as many people involved as possible.
§ The process: we are not expecting you to be experts on this. Members have a better idea, officers will be able to give advice. We will be setting up a representative citizens’ panel, including those who are not normally represented. We will be consulting also with the Local Strategic Partnership.
§ We are required to reach agreement. Then proposals will go to the LGA. The LGA was chosen by Westminster as ‘Selector.’ It is expected that they will receive a large number of suggestions.
§ The LGA will then produce a shortlist which will be submitted to the Secretary of State to decide whether or not to give new powers.
§ There are two criteria for a valid proposal. 1. That the proposal must be something which only central government can currently do. 2. That it must promote the sustainability of the local area.
§ I’m sorry that there is little time left for you to get your suggestions in. The deadline is very tight.
§ Information is available online, and there is an online form to submit your applications. Forms and pamphlets are also available at this meeting.
§ CC: I would like to endorse Zoe’s points on the Act. It is not like most legislation which comes up through the Cabinet. This is driven through us, through local residents.
§ This therefore reverses the process of centralisation that successive governments have pursued over the last 40 years. We live in an overly centralised state. This could begin the fight back.
§ What are we trying to achieve? There are a number of different objectives, which you can see on the slide:
§ We are endangering the world for ourselves and our grandchildren. If you go back decades, we were closer to this ideal. In our local community we had numerous local services and shops that we just don’t have anymore. This process hasn’t stopped. We could still lose pubs, school, etc. We have to use a car for most things now. Our community is threatened.
§ ‘Sustainable Communities’ as a name has a great deal of ambiguity. It means environmental sustainability, but also means maintaining the community: We are a group of people with a shared experience. Fulfordians. If facilities are taken away, where does the community go? This act could rescue our community.
§ We need to gain more power, or to regain it. We could change the planning laws for example. Everything is currently in favour of developers. We could change this. Or we could fight for more control over local money.
§ We need your suggestions now. It is a chance to fight back against centralisation and restore our community.
Call for Questions
Q. Would it be possible for us to obtain funds to develop on private land?
ZB: A similar suggestion has been raised elsewhere.
Q. I am interested in preserving Fulford Ings. English Nature have no funds. Could this happen?
ZB: Potentially, yes. You are not alone in making this suggestion.
Q. Because of the short time span, can we see a list of already proposed suggestions?
ZB: All suggestions are logged, but not yet available to the public. Many things are coming up frequently though, like the power to reregulate buses.
Comment: There is so little time
OC: Examples are also on the board at the back of the room
CJB: Small ideas can be consulted on and make big changes. The louder people shout, the more likely it is that they will be heard.
CC: Will there be a report on the proposals?
ZB: Executive meetings are public and minuted, so there will be a record of the decision process.
Q. Number of Heslington residents is being reduced by the amount of students moving into the area. Could anything be done about this?
ZB: Proposals could be put forward to regulate the number of second homes.
KA: Need planning laws control so that the Council has a say. There is currently a concentration of students. It would be better if they were spread around the community.
Q. Any other chance to have a say in this?
KA: It will be going to the citizens panel before it reaches the exec.
ZB: The deadline we are working with isn’t negotiable unfortunately. It was decided by the Secretary if State.
Q. How many suggestions have been received so far?
ZB: 93 currently.
KA: There are more coming from the Parish Council.
Q. Does it have to be in writing?
KA: Perhaps suggestions could be taken from the minutes?
OC: We need names and full details.
Q: Is there a role for York Without Walls?
ZB: There will be involvement at the citizens’ panel stage. The idea is to consult them on this, as they are a key partner in the City Strategy.
Q: Any specific role? A ‘sifting’ role?
ZB: Not ‘sifting’ but they will certainly be asked to make suggestions/recommendations. WW may identify issues which will inform our ultimate decision. The Act says that we should do this.
CC: Groups in favour of ‘Sustainable Development’ often pursue an agenda which is the opposite of its real meaning. There is a tension here between the use of the concept of sustainable development.
KA: This is why some 3rd party groups are to be involved.
Q. Could we have more information on the Citizens’ Panel?
ZB: Not yet organised. The Talkabout panel will not fulfil requirements. Need to capture underrepresented. We are trying to develop a process so that the voice of one is as strong as the many.
CC: Any idea on the size?
ZB: Not yet, hoping for marketing to take this on.