Sustainable Communities Act
We had hoped that by now Hillingdon Council would have embraced The Sustainable Communities Act, pioneered by our own local MP, Nick Hurd. To date the Council has not chosen to do so, but that option remains open and the Council says it may use the Act at some time in the future. This an example of an issue that we continue to monitor.
The sustainable Communities Act became law in October 2007 with full cross-party support. Nick Hurd sponsored it but it was campaigned for by Local Works coalition (over 90 organisations).
It introduces a new process whereby communities and Local Authorities have to reach agreement re proposals for government action to promote sustainable communities.Local Works website (www.localworks.org) has several sample proposals e.g.
- to change the planning system so that developers cannot appeal to central government to overturn a local planning decision.
- to protect local pubs;
- support local post offices
- save local services including police stations
- promote democracy and involvement in democratic decision making
- promote local democratic influence on national decisions
- promote small businesses through rate relief. Etc
Communities can of course draft their own proposalsCouncils who decide to use the Act must set up panels of local representatives. These panels can make proposals originated by local residents. and look at proposals made by the Council.
Councils have a “duty to reach agreement” with the Panels – not just to consult then do their own thing.
Councils then pass these proposals to Central Government which also has the same duty to reach agreement.Another provision of the Act is that central government is required to publish Local Spending Reports which will be a breakdown of all public money spent (local and national) by local area. Councils then have the power to propose the transfer of money to local control.
By March 2011 Hillingdon Council had not yet chosen to make use of this Act.