Today sent the letters below (from http://www.localworks.org/) , in support of the Sustainable Communities Bill, which has some success in making its way through the parliamentary process.
Dear Gordon Brown ,
I am writing to ask you, as future Prime Minister, to ensure the government stands by the assurances given by Minister Phil Woolas MP during the Sustainable Communities Bill committee stage that the government will support the Bill and not attempt to ‘water it down’ when it goes before the House for its Report and 3rd reading on the 15th of June.
This Bill is also very much in line with your personal vision of devolving power from the Centre which you expressed in your Labour Party Conference speech in 2006 when you said;
“People and communities should now take power from the state and that means a reinvention of the way we govern: the active citizen, the empowered community, open enabling government…local councils, not Whitehall, should have more power over things that matter to their community.”
You have made restoring trust a big issue in your Leadership campaign: The Sustainable Communities Bill offers a real opportunity to achieve this by actively engaging people in the local democratic process. It provides a mechanism for truly devolving power and building Sustainable Communities.
Phil Woolas made very positive comments about the Bill, and the mechanisms in it, in Committee. If, following these, the government tries to water down the Bill on 15th June then it will be no surprise if many people continue to distrust politicians.
So, once again I ask you to please ensure that the Sustainable Communities Bill is not watered down from being a Bill in which councils and communities, to use Phil Woolas’s words, ‘determine’ the policies, to one in which they are merely ‘consulted’ and all the decisions are taken centrally in Whitehall.
Dear Kerry McCarthy
I am writing to ask you write to communities Minister Phil Woolas MP urging him to stand by the very encouraging statements and pledges he made during the Sustainable Communities Bill Committee, that the government will support the Bill and not attempt to ‘water it down’, when it goes before the House for its Report and 3rd reading on the 15th of June.
Mr Woolas specifically assured the Committee that he agreed to the drawing up of a government action plan to help reverse community decline, with the contents of the plan being based on ‘co-operation’ between the government and councils (via the Local Government Association), and between councils and their communities (via citizens panels) (i.e. not consultation in which the decisions are taken at the centre: but co-operation in which decisions are taken together – a far more ‘bottom-up’ mechanism)
The Sustainable Communities Bill offers a real opportunity to actively engage people in the local democratic process and it provides a mechanism for truly devolving power and building Sustainable Communities. As a constituent and keen supporter of this Bill I urge you to take up this matter urgently with Mr Woolas and also to be present in the House on Friday the 15th of June to support the Bill