Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sustainable Communities Bill

the Local Works logoRegular readers will remember the Local Works campaign for the Sustainable Communities Bill. This was picked up as a Private Members bill in November 2006 by Nick Hurd and was passed by Parliament in June 2007. Then it all went quiet. The thing is, that in order to take advantage of it, Local Authorities have to Opt-In.

In September 2008 a motion was put to Full Council in Lewisham by Cllr Sue Luxton. She writes “The challenge of course, is to make sure that local people are aware that this legislation exists and how to use it.” And “Theoretically, we can use this new law to find ways to halt the decline of some of our smaller shopping parades, to save post offices and pubs or prevent yet more betting shops, take aways and supermarkets from opening and draining money from the local economy. It could be used to make sure any new developments help to make our community more sustainable and better equipped to cope with the challenges of a transition towards a zero-carbon society, not ever more at the mercy of a globalised economy.” Of course she wrote this before the credit crunch!

So, “what’s happening here in Redbridge?” I asked Cllr Cleaver. In turn he asked the Council Leader at Full Council on 20th November 2008. Here is the exchange in advance of the minutes:

Councillor Cleaver asked the Leader of the Council, Councillor Weinberg, what actions the Council had taken in order to get as much as possible from the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 for Redbridge?
Councillor Weinberg replied that the purpose of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 was to encourage local empowerment by providing a statutory framework for councils, residents and community organisations to put forward proposals to central Government designed to contribute to local sustainability.
Guidance for proposals by local authorities was issued in July 2008. This was followed up on 14 October by an invitation from the Communities and Local Government department to submit proposals by 31 July 2009.
Management Board had received a report on the Act and agreed that Directors consider any proposals that could be put forward under the Act. Management Board would then develop any appropriate proposals for Cabinet consideration.
Before any proposal was submitted the authority had to establish a panel of representatives of local persons and consult it about the actual proposal.
By way of a supplementary question Councillor Cleaver asked whether the Council was planning to establish a Citizens Panel in any case so that, when opportunities are drawn up by Council Officers, they could be put forward to the Government, or rather to the LGA, as quickly as possible so that they could be brought into the funding round that was available for the Council and hopefully get the benefits for Redbridge, from the Act, as quickly as possible.
Councillor Weinberg replied that he was pleased to say that we would be establishing a Residents Panel when a proposal had been received.
By way of a second supplementary question Councillor Norman asked whether the Leader considered that enhancing the terms of reference of Area Committees might be an appropriate proposal under this Act.
Councillor Weinberg replied that he did not.

So, it seems to be happening, if slowly. I sense a local campaign coming on to hurry them up a bit!


  1. Thanks for the quote! The response from your Council sounds decidedly lukewarm and lame to me! They also seem to be missing the point about the bottom up, grassroots approach - this shouldn't be about Council officers coming up with ideas, the ideas should be coming from the local community! It costs them nothing to opt in to the act - what's with the dithering?! And are they actually going to let anyone know they can make a proposal, or just sit tight and hope no one does? Sounds like they're stuck for ideas so a few proposals from the la21 group wouldn't go amiss perhaps?!

  2. Heaven forbid that Redbridge Council should launch another "Conversation "!

  3. Am I missing something, or will this opt-in aspect just mean that the places to get the benefit from this Bill will be mostly the better-off, articulate and get-up-and-go sort of areas, while those areas already deprived and run-down will fail to opt in and thus end up becoming still more deprived and run-down?

    In other words, could it not have a polarising effect?

  4. I think the intent is the other way round, but we shall just have to see what happens.

  5. As this supposed to be a "bottom up" process, I fail to see why suggestions have to come from council officers, having seen the pigs ear their suggestions have created in Barkingside High Street, Clements Road, and allowed the Pioneer Market redevelopment to be so close to the road, that the main thoroughfare through Ilford has to have a lane coned off for two years, and this is only on the roads, we wont talk about swimming pools,or hideous developments which now cant be sold, or the folly that is Unity Square, although to be fair Councillors must also take their share of the blame, in failing to exercise their management and strategic role.therefore my suggfestion to improve local democracy is the introduction of webcasting of council meetings, sot that we know what is going on.However, as we dont have a panel to submit these suggestions to,the whole thing grinds to a halt.


  6. Well said, Dopeyf. "grinding to a halt" does seem to be a common feature round here.

  7. They probably describe it as "traffic calming"!

  8. Yesterday, 8th December, in the City of York a 20mph Zone was approved WITHOUT road humps! This has been piloted in Portsmouth where all residential roads are 20mph as of March 2008, without Humps.

    “In most cases the 20mph limit will be self-enforcing and further speed enforcement measures will not be needed.”

    Is the Redbridge Cabinet member for Highways aware of this, or is he too busy catering for other things?

  9. He is searching for "Best Practise" - try Barnet

  10. I didn't realise that Barnet had a reputation for Canapes!
    And besides, why should "best practice" otherwise known as the "bleedin obvious" always come from somewhere else?
    Where is the creative, innovative, cutting edge thinking in Redbridge?

  11. The creative,innovative,cutting edge thinking has all been expended on Redbridge I,however even this is falling behind, none of the following, instituted by other councils has been taken up by Redbridge - you can move the bits about, but some people need to be able to use it, without these "programmers dream"

    Language choice enabled

    Speech Enabled sites

    Public Access from
    Borough wide kiosks

    Ask the leader Questions

    On line councillor surgeries,,1387152,00.html

    Online E-petions

    Blogs and websites for - each Councillor

    And of course


    A moribund Forum

    Redbridge I - Run out of Ideas


  12. Thanks to Dopeyf, I, the dopey one, was made aware of this sustainable thing yesterday and, as I needed some enlightening, dopeyf mentioned B21 and also google.
    I googled, and was directed to a redbridge i site and the sustainability project is mentioned there as being linked to Agenda 21. So I assumed B21 would have been consulted by the council.
    I 'searched' for allotments, well, not mentioned at all. Surprised?...
    As the shorter days of winter are coming and as the allotment site is is good nick, I would like to be involved and find a way to include allotments in the description of sustainability in Redbridge.
    Allotment have this incredible advantage that they are not wealth related. (Whether the council's wealth is concerned or the allotmenteer's.) Having little money is not going to hold you back. You need a minimum amount of fitness (just have a look at us!) and you need to tune in with nature and receive.
    Whom can I address?

  13. quote:
    A moribund Forum

    Redbridge I - Run out of Ideas


    10 December, 2008 10:57

    On the contrary, dopeyf, the redbridgei forum is overflowing with ideas!
    However, I think that rather than the staff moderating us, we should be asked to moderate them because most ideas are coming from them. The redimanager is very informative and I am getting the religious education I never got. (Separation of state education and religion in France, etc,...)
    Morris merits a mention here because, quite a while ago he introduced me to the expression 'on the road to Damascus' and I had no idea what it meant and it has a religious history base.
    I do understand 'back to France' but I don't take any notice!