Monday, December 13, 2010


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I'm all for spreading out and sharing power much more. There is far too much power in central government and in other large organisations - including councils - and not nearly enough in the hands of local people, local communities and those served by large organisations. But does the government's Localism Bill give real power to the people and in all respects? An Elected Mayor puts an awful lot of power in to hands of one person for instance. Government claim to be giving more power to local councils - but at the same time they are disempowering them by cutting the money they get by 27% over four years! I welcome any genuine shift of power but money has to go with it.

BBC News - Councils to see grants cuts by average 4.4% - Pickles

The Localism Bill's measures are expected to include:

*Giving local people and organisations the right to buy community assets like shops, pubs and libraries. If a council decides to sell a property community organisations will get extra time to develop their bid.
*Communities can question how services - such as children's centres, care homes and transport - are being run and potentially take them over.
*More power for local people to overrule planning decisions, decide where new homes should go and protect green spaces.
*Powers to create directly elected mayors in 12 cities
*Powers for people to approve or veto "excessive" council tax rises

Lib Dem and Labour Hypocrites

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Knowle Councillor Gary Hopkins has been hypocritical by saying he values green spaces whilst also deciding to flog many of them. However, it’s very rich indeed for Labour’s Dawn Primarolo to criticise him ('Gary got it all wrong', Post 13 Dec) because Labour were running the council when the green spaces plans were drafted and then adopted (2007 and 2008)! She is now jumping on the green bandwagon. I would remind her, as the person who has lead the Green Party’s consistent, principled and practical opposition to green spaces flogging, that I lobbied and petitioned the then Labour Cabinet running Bristol very hard indeed – and not a single Labour Cabinet member or Councillor would do anything to oppose the plans. In fact they argued strongly in favour of selling our green spaces! You can’t trust the protection of green spaces to the Lib Dems, Labour or the Conservatives because they’ve all supported the sell-off policy in the past.

Note: In this report ('MP condemns consultation as 'shambles' ', Post, Dec 10) Cllr Hopkins gave some details of the meetings that dealt with green spaces issues in Knowle - including 'The Jungle' (Salcombe Rd Rec). He refers to '...a few people against the principle of the PGSS (green spaces strategy)...'. I was there and I am certainly one of the people he is referring to here. There was zero Labour campaigning to save green spaces whereas the Green Party had a clear policy against sell-off from the start.