DEFRA: Localism and Big Society

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Delivered by John Coleman from DEFRA at the Living Villages Summit in Hereford on 24 June 2011.

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DEFRA: Localism and Big Society

  1. 1. Living Villages Summit: Localism and Big Society<br />John Coleman. Head of Rural Intelligence and Big Society. <br />The Rural Communities Policy Unit, 24thJune, 2011<br />
  2. 2. A Rural Communities Policy Unit was created in Defra, April 1st 2011<br />Defra Ministers: Rural Champions and Lead rural proofing of policy across Whitehall <br />RCPU Key Priority: <br />Identify issues of critical importance to rural communities and <br />support, inform and influence government policy to achieve fair, practical and affordable outcomes for rural residents, businesses and communities. <br />RCPU Key Priority:<br />Developing open and collaborative approaches to gathering information, evidence and solutions working closely with the wide range of organisations which support and represent rural communities.<br />http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/communities/<br />
  3. 3. Localism and the Big Society<br />
  4. 4. Rural Intelligence and Big Society Team<br />
  5. 5. Rural – fertile ground for the big society?<br />There are higher numbers of voluntary organisations per head of population in rural as compared to urban England. <br />Civic engagement is higher in rural England (with 54% of residents participating) compared to urban England (where 45% of residents participate). <br />An estimated £3 billion of community assets exist in rural England including over 10,000 village halls, 90% are run by local volunteers. <br />Over 4,000 community-led plans have been completed with about half of the actions funded and delivered by communities themselves Source:Respublica report, the Rural Big Society, March 2011<br />In Hereford:<br />This equates to 53,000 adults who volunteer for approximately 5,876,000 hours per annum which is valued at around £60 million if you had to pay this many employees Source: Herefordshire quality of life survey 2008, Herefordshire Council Research Team<br />
  6. 6. Localism Bill will bring...<br />A planning system clearer, more democratic and more effective. <br />A new National Planning Policy Framework <br />New freedoms and flexibilities for local government <br />Reforming the community infrastructure levy and other local finance considerations<br />
  7. 7. Localism Bill will bring...<br />Key changes and new rights and powers for communities: <br />Community right to challenge; right to build, and right to buy. <br />Neighbourhood planning <br />Local referendums <br />Hereford’s well developed partnership working - between elected and non-elected representatives - fundamental to success!!<br />
  8. 8. At the Village level - Parish and Town Councils are vital resources for villages<br />Village catalysts and enablers <br />Local knowledge and skills: drivers of innovation<br />Bringing coherency to the voice communities e.g. through neighbourhood planning<br />Hereford: leading the way e.g. on Participatory Budgeting.<br />The Eden Vanguard has shown the importance of:<br />communities being in charge of changes to their areas<br />community-led decisions need, in practice, to be taken with ‘elected legitimacy’ – P+T Councils critical to this<br />
  9. 9. Big things are on the horizon ...<br />A Government Wide Rural Statement:<br /><ul><li>bringing together for the first time a consolidated picture of what the Government‘s broad range of policies and programmes will mean in practice for rural people, businesses and communities</li></ul>A Rural Growth Review:<br /><ul><li>scrutinising the constraints, opportunities and risks impacting on economic growth in rural areas, and considering specific issues including labour market characteristics, to support the Government's commitment to rebalancing the economy</li></li></ul><li>Grant Shapps: Speech to the Local Government Association, 9 June, 2011.<br />"Local councillors are the heroes of their communities - they're hard working, dedicated and often unpaid. But for years these democratically elected representatives have been forced to sit on their hands in the passenger seat of local government, whilst local decisions are dictated to them from Whitehall.<br />"The Government ... has set councils on a revolutionary road where the authority and responsibility of councillors will be restored, along with their ability to respond to what local people need and want. We've put councillors in the driving seat.<br />

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