Friday, February 08, 2008

Empower local communities - dont 'streamline/modernise/speed-away' democracy

Had a reply today from my MP Kerry McCarthy. I wrote to her on Jan 19 asking her to support the Planning and Energy Private Members Bill (see this previous post). She said '...I am not minded to support the Planning and Energy Bill. I believe the Government's Planning Reform Bill...which will streamline, modernise and speed up the planning system will address the concerns itself.' This is a great pity but does indicate a pattern in both my MP and the Labour Government, both of whom resisted the Sustainable Communities Bill - they do not seem to want to truly empower local communities!

The Planning and Energy Private Members Bill enables local decision-making for new developments eg allowing: the setting of high energy efficiency standards; and enabling requirement of local, on-site energy generation by green methods such as solar and photovoltaic panels, heat pumps and small-scale combined heat and power plants - really needed for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, cutting fuel bills, creating jobs in neighbourhoods and building local sustainability.

A further concern is her support for the Government's Planning Reform Bill. For a start this Bill is not aimed at local community empowerment, quite the opposite in fact (its those words, streamline, modernise and speed up the planning system that give it away, for they mean take away some democracy). Avon Wildlife Trust recently expressed real concerns about the Bill ('We must protect birds and wildife', Bristol Evening Post, 7 Feb 2008) Greens have expressed strong concerns about it too, saying:

"The current proposals for a separate planning system for major infrastructure projects mean undermining democracy in favour of an increasingly centralised and authoritarian government.

"The Green Party believes that a healthy democracy should encourage public participation in decision making."

"Consulting with local people for disruptive, polluting projects like airports is essential, and any attempt to 'streamline' these processes to save money, or to hand them over to appointed yes-men is a scandalous affront to the rights of ordinary people ..."


  1. Glenn

    I've given up trying to get Kerry McCarthy to support anything that doesn't have the government's paw prints all over it. She is lobby fodder with no mind of her own; her rebellions against government policy are noticeable by her absence. Since she became a PPS she has even stopped signing early day motions. From her actions, I would reckon she's in line for a senior position - possibly a ministerial post - and is using Bristol as a means to scramble up the greasy pole.

    Furthermore, I wonder if she even reads her mail properly: I've just received a reply to my latest email in which she misses the point completely. I was asking about the purchase of items by the British Embassy in Berlin; her reply makes no reference to 'purchase' but refers instead to 'use'.

  2. I will monitor developments in her career with interest. She may well have ministerial ambitions. I believe her background in Labour is very much a loyalist/insider/establishment one.

    I have written to her quite a bit and have not found that she does not read what I've written properly (yet!). Generally she's been pretty efficient and organised with her responses.

    However, she has very definitely trotted out the official party line on issues I've raised, like: Iran; nuclear weapons; climate change; food safety; planning law...

  3. Kerry McCarthy said: "I am not minded ..."

    How pompous is this woman? In a letter to a constituent.

    Does she think she's a minister already?

    Interesting what Woodsy says. I first thought this when I signed up to receive emails on the questions she asks in parliament, and soon found that she virtually never stops 'polishing the apple'.

    The obviously planted ones along the lines of "would the Minister agree that the sun shines out of his arse?" are the best.


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.