Sunday, June 24, 2012

Great news - The Act is saved! -
are Mass email campaigns Effective?

This post was not on my schedule for the series on how we engage with our elected representatives, but nevertheless serves as an example of the sort of questions and issues I want to raise. Mass email campaigns to MPs from NGOs and charities have been criticised as being ineffective because they are treated as SPAM - and 38 Degrees, who are responsible for a large part of it, have admitted that they should spend more time actually talking to MPs. Well, B21, I suppose, could be described as a lobby group and we do talk to our local MP. We know he doesn’t sign any EDMs so I don’t bother to ask him, but I do sometimes send an email on a campaign such as the one below, but always in my own words. I take the view that if you are not prepared to write something yourself, then you’re not really that interested in the subject.


Great news – government has finally made the regulations on the Sustainable Communities Act!

After months of delays, the Minister Greg Clark announced last week that government had finally prepared the regulations and they have now been laid before Parliament. So the Act has been saved from “death by delay” and is alive and kicking!

I would like to say a big THANK YOU for all your efforts for making this happen. It took a great deal of campaigning to get government to change its plans on the Act and to make these regulations. Without all your support, it would not have been possible. So thank you!

And what of the regulations themselves? Well, the main points are as follows:-
  • Crucially, the regulations retain the rights of people to participate in the Act – councils must not just merely “consult” with local people - they must go further and “try to reach agreement” with them when submitting proposals. Government had taken this out of the Act, leaving it potentially much weaker. We fought hard to ensure this right was put back in – so it is very good news that it has been included in the new regulations.
  • The “Selector” panel will have the right to challenge government on any proposals government initially rejects and government has to “consult and try to reach agreement” with the Selector. This means government can be brought back to the table and compelled to negotiate, to compromise and be made to take action to help communities.
In addition, Greg Clark announced that:
  • There will be a time-limit of six months for government to respond to proposals. This will be included in a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Selector and government, due to be published over the summer.
  • Local Works will be made part of the Selector, which means we will be better placed to ensure positive results for communities across the country by ensuring that government does negotiate, compromise and reach agreement with the Selector and no merely consult.
And there is still more positive news: Government has launched a consultation on whether parish councils should be able to submit proposals under the Act – which you can view here: Click! We will be encouraging government to allow parish councils to use the Act. We are very pleased with this progress. Once again, thank you so much for all your support in making this happen.
Kind regards,

Steve, Dan, Ron and the Local Works team

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To be honest I was not worried at all. The original bill was introduced as a Private Member's Bill by a Conservative, Nick Hurd, and I had little doubt that the Minsiter would produce the goods eventually. Parliament rarely does anything at speed unless it's to do with expenses or War. The question is whether the outcome was influenced by the email campaign? But I did, as I said, email our MP as follows:

Dear Lee,

Could you please ask the Communities Minister, Greg Clark, what the blockage is with the Sustainable Communities Act and if he would like to borrow this >>>

Regards
Alan

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