Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sustainable Communities Bill

I'm delighted that the Sustainable Communities Bill has this week got through its second reading in the House of Commons and will now go to committee stage. This bill, which local (Catford) campaigner Ron Bailey has been the driving force behind for a number of years and which the New Economics Foundation, Unlock Democracy and the Green Party, amongst others, have long supported, was first introduced to parliament back in 2003, but has always run out of time. This time it has been introduced as a private members' bill by Tory MP Nick Hurd who topped the private members' ballot. It also has the backing of the Conservative Party and the Lib Dems, along with many Labour back-benchers (including I believe Joan Ruddock, but I'm not 100% certain on that).

So what will the bill do? For a more detailed explanation take a look at the local works website, but in brief it is designed to give local communities more say over what happens in their area and to allow a more bottom-up rather than top-down approach to tackling local social, environmental and economic issues. For example if a plan to build a supermarket in the area was controversial, there could be a local referendum on it. One of the bill's key aims is to reverse the 'Ghost Town Britain' situation in which local shops, post offices and other services are closing and to instead promote local sustainability and help to create thriving local high streets.

I organised a meeting with the New Economics Foundation on this a few years back at Goldsmiths. Charles Secrett (former director of Friends of the Earth) and Jenny Jones (Green London assembly member) were among the speakers, along with Ron, if I remember correctly. Anyway, it's great that (fingers crossed) the bill may finally be getting somewhere. Another local blogger Do Something Extra, who I came across via Andrew Brown's blog has also blogged about this.

I've probably used way too much jargon there to explain something which is in essence about practical, common sense ways of reversing the decline in local communities, but in short I think it's a great bill and I hope it gets through committee stage without too much dilution and well done Ron!


. said...

I mention this only because you teach English (even EFL students must get English punctuation right): there is a greengrocers' apostrophe in the second line of this post.
You can reject this comment and then delete the apostrophe.
Goswell Frand

Anonymous said...

aargh the shame of it! Well spotted, thanks!

. said...

Of course it was just a slip. You write well and I like your blog.

Nancy B said...

Joan Ruddock did vote in favour of the Bill and as the vote was yesterday I'm unsure why you are unsure?

Also she had previously added her name to the Early Day Motion in favour of the Bill and calling on the Government to support it. Did you miss this too?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying, I thought she was supportive and I had a distant memory of her signing one of the earlier EDMs on the bill a couple of years back, but I didn't trawl through any of the voting record websites to clarify that. I felt it was fine to say I thought she was supportive but hadn't verified that. Had I been criticising her and accusing her of not voting, then naturally I would have checked my facts.