Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making Ends Meet

This post was to be titled “Planners have Crystal Balls” in honour of the Redbridge Planning Department. Although the new title might indicate a budgeting angle it is not wholly about that although that subject is also pertinent here. It’s about the practicalities involved in putting together a plan, or a design. It’s about making things fit, about measuring the correct dimensions and cutting to size accurately, and making sure you can get it through the door after you’ve assembled whatever it is you are building. It’s about prediction and foresight. Doing things in the right order so you don’t have to undo and redo what you’ve already done. Carpenters do it. Builders do it. Engineers do it. Seamstresses do it. We all do it, in one way or another.

So, we come to a rather optimistic document published by the Town and Country Planning Association telling us how we can get involved in the planning of our local communities to make sure the right things go into the right places at the right time. [pause while you get up off the floor after falling off your chair]

Except it doesn’t happen like that, at least not around here. We do have a Local Development Framework but it seems that the council don’t take much notice of it. As we noted earlier there are major plans to build housing on the green belt and on Fairlop Plain. If you fill up all the space with housing and don’t leave any space for amenities like schools they are not gonna be built, if at all, in the right place or at the right time. But what’s more in that council document I linked to in that post is this little gem: Para 29.

"Alongside this, the Government has reportedly shelved plans to give residents the right to appeal against major planning developments that threaten the green belt, sparking criticism from rural campaigners. The Government's proposed overhaul of the planning system, intended to promote the Coalition's "localism" agenda, will not include a third party right of appeal against successful planning applications."
Then we read that our allotments are under threat once again. The Independent.

And so we come to leaked reports suggesting ministers have decided the "wholesale outsourcing" of public services to the private sector would be politically "unpalatable". Ministers instead want to use more charities, social enterprises and employee-owned "mutual" organisations. The BBC. The Guardian.

Well, that’s fine, except it isn’t. For these organisations to work they need funding and somewhere to operate. If you cut council’s budgets so they can’t afford to fully fund Barnabas Workshops and other social enterprises their very existence is threatened. If you change the rules on building and providing schools so that our council has no choice but to sell the Downshall Centre to E-Act then the charities operating there will have nowhere else to go.

I’m sorry Mr Cleggeron, but I don’t see any “plan” in the sense that I understand the word. All I see is a hotch-potch of whacky ideas that do not link into each other, no overall objective and no vision of what is being aimed at. You and your government do not have Crystal Balls.

Meanwhile today Disabled people will be “marching” in London against cuts to benefits and services - Organisers of the “Hardest Hit” march expect between 5,000 and 10,000 people to attend largest event of its kind for decades.

And locally we hear of a resident whose husband has Alzheimers (the charity of choice of the last two Redbridge Mayors) and who gets one day a week respite when he attends a day care centre. Last year the cost was £4.64 per week. This year it is £34 per day.

#BigSociety

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