Friday, January 05, 2007

"The Lib Dem nerds' paradise"

Cllr Mark Bennett, a councillor in Lambeth, has an excellent blog with thoughtful, fair and balanced recent posts such as "Lib Dems = Chaos", "Lib Dems - Wedded to weak Wardens", "Lib Dems and Tories threaten libraries", and my favourite, "The Lib Dem nerds' paradise".

The latter is about attempts to replace area committees with something which engages communities better. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who finds that their local area committee/forum/whatever is working well. The idea is for more open decision-making and more people to be involved in deciding priorities for their local services. I've never heard of any area where that actually happens, partly because Area Committees are top down structures which weren't planned to fit in with existing community groups and structures.

The one issue which Area Committees consistently managed to engage local people where I used to live was planning. Area Committees were given the power to consider planning applications, which is apparently an invaluable opportunity to educate local people in how planning policies are applied and the nature of quasi-judicial decision-making. I have to confess that I would struggle to recommend this system to comrades in Lambeth or elsewhere.


At 12:20 am , Anonymous Tim said...

We have a nice feature at one of ours called "Meet the Neighbours" where people from different recent immigrant communities take it in turns to bring along refreshments and speak about their own country, why they left, why they came to Tottenham and what they like and dislike about living in Tottenham relative to wherever they used to be.


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