Haringey’s residents should have greater control over how to improve their community – this was the message spearheaded by Liberal Democrat councillors at Monday’s Full Council meeting. A Liberal Democrat motion was passed unanimously calling for Haringey Council to ‘opt in’ and use the powers given in the Sustainable Communities Act, which seeks to enable local authorities to improve the local economy, protect the environment, promote social inclusion, and increase civic and political activity.
Once a council has opted in, local residents are able to take part in citizen’s panels and influence what proposals are put forward to central government to improve their area. The deadline for Local Authorities to submit their opt in proposals is 31st July 2009. Liberal Democrats have urged Haringey Council to submit their proposals by this date and not wait for the next round.
Key actions shown in the Sustainable Communities Act are:
·Local citizens’ panel created to agree community proposals with the Council.
·Bottom-up decision making – local residents make decisions with local authorities to produce proposals. Central government has a legal duty to co-operate and reach agreement on the proposals.
·Transfer and functions and funding to local control – communities can ask for the transfer of existing centrally-controlled funding and functions to local control.
·Councils can act together to lobby government for action on issues using the Act.
Cllr Nigel Scott, who proposed the Liberal Democrat motion, comments:
“It was pleasing to see support for this proposal from both groups on Haringey Council but now we have agreement, I urge Haringey to opt in now.Over fifty councils in England and Wales have opted in already and they are starting to plan for and achieve benefits for their residents.Talking about opting in is not enough – we need to get a move on.”
Lynne Featherstone MP adds:
“This Act offers huge potential to bring real power into the hands of our local community.I have no doubt that local residents will be better served by decisions made in our town hall rather than the dusty corridors of Whitehall.
“I very much hope Haringey Council will embrace the possibility of these powers with the same spirit and enthusiasm with which my Liberal Democrat councillor colleagues have proposed it.”