Living Villages Summit: Localism and BigSociety John Coleman. Head of Rural Intelligence and Big Society. The Rural Communities Policy Unit, 24th June, 2011
A Rural Communities Policy Unit was createdin Defra, April 1st 2011 Defra Ministers: Rural Champions and Lead rural proofing of policy across RCPU Key Priority: Defra Whitehall Identify issues of critical Ministers importance to rural Rural Champions communities and support, inform and RCPU Key Priority: influence government RCPU Policy Developing open and policy to achieve fair, Work With collaborative approaches to practical and affordable OGDs gathering information, outcomes for rural RCPU Engagement evidence and solutions residents, businesses with Civil working closely with the and communities. Society wide range of organisations which support and represent rural communities. http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/communities/
Rural Intelligence and Big Society Team • Rural communities are enabled and empowered by the Big Society and supported by local decision makersBig Society • E.g. Supporting DCLG and OCS to build capacity • Open and collaborative working with rural communities, civic society and decision makers to ensure ‘credible’ representationIntelligence • E.g. ACRE / RCAN - reporting on the shared endeavours in local decision taking between communities and local government. • To help deliver open and responsive government through two way dialogueStakeholder andCommunications • Developing new rural and farming networks to engage with Ministers
Rural – fertile ground for the big society?• There are higher numbers of voluntary organisations per head of population in rural as compared to urban England.• Civic engagement is higher in rural England (with 54% of residents participating) compared to urban England (where 45% of residents participate).• An estimated £3 billion of community assets exist in rural England including over 10,000 village halls, 90% are run by local volunteers.• 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 2011In Hereford:• 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
Localism Bill will bring...• A planning system clearer, more democratic and more effective.• A new National Planning Policy Framework• New freedoms and flexibilities for local government• Reforming the community infrastructure levy and other local finance considerations
Localism Bill will bring...Key changes and new rights and powers forcommunities:• Community right to challenge; right to build, and right to buy.• Neighbourhood planning• Local referendums• Hereford’s well developed partnership working - between elected and non-elected representatives - fundamental to success!!
At the Village level - Parish and Town Councils are vital resources for villages• Village catalysts and enablers• Local knowledge and skills: drivers of innovation• Bringing coherency to the voice communities e.g. through neighbourhood planning• Hereford: leading the way e.g. on Participatory Budgeting.The Eden Vanguard has shown the importance of:• communities being in charge of changes to their areas• community-led decisions need, in practice, to be taken with ‘elected legitimacy’ – P+T Councils critical to this
Big things are on the horizon ...A Government Wide Rural Statement:• 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 communitiesA Rural Growth Review:• scrutinising the constraints, opportunities and risks impacting on economic growth in rural areas, and considering specific issues including labour market characteristics, to support the Governments commitment to rebalancing the economy
Grant Shapps: Speech to the Local GovernmentAssociation, 9 June, 2011. "Local councillors are the heroes of their communities - theyre 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. "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. Weve put councillors in the driving seat.