For latest see Sustainable Communities Act
The Sustainable Communities Bill is a Private Member's Bill currently making its way through the British parliamentary system. The Sustainable Communities Bill represents the culmination of efforts by the campaign group Local Works to introduce legislation that will help reverse the trend called 'Ghost Town Britain'. Ghost Town Britain refers to the ongoing loss of local facilities and services including amongst others: shops, markets, post offices, pubs, banks and health centres. The term 'Ghost Town Britain' was initially coined by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation in their 2002 report.
- Sustainable Communities Bill completes Committee stage. Local Works, May 29 2007 / Local needs met locally, UK news
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations backs the Sustainable Communities Bill, NCVO, April 25 2007 / Community & voluntary action
- Sustainable Communities Bill passes through its second reading. Local Works, January 22 2007 / Local needs met locally, UK
- First MP drawn in the Private Members Ballot agrees to adopt the Sustainable Communities Bill and take it through Parliament. Local Works, November 23 2006 / Local needs met locally, UK
How the Bill will work Edit
The Sustainable Communities Bill will work by giving increasing devolved powers that local council representatives have to empower them to solve the problems within their local communities. Central government will be required by law to provide for the implementation of local sustainability strategies that communities will be invited to draw up themselves together with their councils. Importantly, this new process will be participatory not consultative.
Under the Bill local sustainability has these 4 measurements:
1. thriving local economies
2. environmental protection
3. social inclusion
4. active democratic participation
Councils will be given funding from central government to make sure that all people in their communities are able to participate in the new bottom-up process. This is based on the idea of social justice, with access to democracy and community development being a right of every citizen under the Bill.
The local sustainability strategies will state ways in which community decline is to be reversed and local sustainability is to be created. This could include measures to promote local shops and services, local jobs and local businesses; measures to reduce social exclusion and increase active citizenship; as well as measures to improve the local environment.
Local people will be able to set targets for these measures, or even introduce new measures and indicators, and these may differ from area to area. There may even be local referenda on issues such as whether a new superstore should be built.
March 26 2007 - Monday
Potential criticisms of what the Bill and its provisions seem to seek to deliver Edit
- It seems to be weighted in favour of strategies rather than real actions. The problem is not about a lack of powers (or strategies) but the lack of political will, including and specifically within local government, to pursue either sustainability or genuine community involvement. Specifically duties to publish proposals and invite participation do not of necessity lead to local government having to take any notice of the results of participation. Potentially even worse an inadequate system can be manipulated to take account only of those views which match local governments' prejudice.
- The campaign for the bill doesn't seem to practice what it preaches. Community and local involvement (or participation) seem central, yet there does not seem to be provision for people to help develop the design of the 'system' the bill and its provisions seek to set up or to influence it. Specifically there is a suspicion that local sustainability practitioners (and others outside of the circle of NGOs) were not, are not and are not to be involved (or invited or welcomed to participate). This is not a matter of cost. There are many cost free ways of doing this - this wiki just for one.
- The challenge of developing (and refining) appropriate and meaningful indicators seems to be wholly underestimated. Ongoing community involvement in choice of indicators would seem to be essential.
- It doesn't seem to propose any system of evaluating how it would all work, and so be constantly improved upon (at the big picture level).
Related topics Edit
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