1. PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES: Community Representation and Engagement

VISION: Active and effective Parish and Town Councils and other community organisations have the visibility, ability and capacity to engage local people to secure resources for the delivery of local improvements.

This could be achieved by:

* Parish and Town Councils playing a leadership role in rural communities to identify issues and find solutions
* More capacity, willingness and ability to secure funding and deliver local improvements
* Wider recognition of the ability of organisations to provide services in response to local needs
* More co-operation in the delivery of services


Answer – Disagree

Many Parish and Town Councils have difficulty finding residents willing to stand for election and often members are co-opted. Why? Because the role is onerous and as constituted under current legislation these bodies have no power over the dominating issue of planning in their community. Neighbourhood Plans are prohibitively expensive and pointless as if they do not concur with the local authority Local Plan they can be rejected first by the local authority and then by PINS even if the local authority approves. If a 'local improvement' is to be forced to accept hundreds of new houses and roads that the local community doesn't want that is not 'local engagement'. You can't have it both ways.

There are many residents associations that seek to co-operate in protecting themselves from the exigencies of inappropriate local authority policies for which there was no meaningful consultation. Consultation isn't just a matter of asking for input from communities and then ignoring it if the policy maker disagrees. More 'co-operation' is a two-way process.

It is important that any organisation (Parish Council, Town Council or borough or district councils) has the ability to reject or refuse applications as well as promote development.  Community backing is important for any major decisions reached and this should be demonstrable; it is important that protection of existing facilities is a right as well.  

Sources of funding are diffuse and the process of applying and drawing up plans and documentation time consuming. In some cases, funding from some bodies can be withdrawn after initial approval as they themselves have sources of funds withdrawn from them. Community participants are not professional salaried employees or experts and lose motivation and ultimately lose interest.

Wednesday the 20th - Published by Normandy Action Group, 166 Glaziers Lane, Guildford GU3 2EB - with thanks to Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor - Hostgator Coupon Template