10/07/2011 The Politics Show East


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Here in the East: We're in Corby at a former royal


residence and centre of government, to talk about this government's


Localism Bill, devolving power to councils and to communities, like


the one in the centre of Corby that's reclaimed this ancient


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2366 seconds


Hello and welcome to Corby. It is the part of the programme at just


We have come down, not for a teddy bear's picnic, but to talk about


the government's plans for the big societies. --. Here to tell us


about the would land in Corby is the chairman of Friends of


woodlands. Why do these woodlands need friends? As a child I used to


play here. Over the years, the woodland has been deteriorating and


getting really bad. We formed the England Is Ours to clear that -- we


formed the group to clear the woodland. To make it accessible to


all the people of Corby. The school's use it, and everyone else


over the past three years. How easy was it to find people to help? Who


is involved? Everyone is involved. They have an interest, even if it


is only a comment about the woodland. They can come to our


meetings and express their comments. Who benefits? He everybody.


Everybody who has ever been through Corby. They all come in here.


accessible? It is accessible to everybody, even the disabled. We


have done 6.5 kilometres of pathway so everyone can get down here. They


all come to the woodland. Some would say this is a great example


of the Big Society. People here are keen to emphasise it predates David


Cameron's idea for some years. It is part of the government's


localism bills. In this region, the localism agenda is coming under


scrutiny in two areas. One is controversial plans to get rid of


our waste. In Northamptonshire campaigners are bringing a legal


challenge against the Secretary of State's decision to allow nuclear


waste to be stored at a village landfill site.


It is not a Tale of Two cities, but more of two kings. Both are


challenging the Government's Localism Bill. Both won their


voices heard. The people here have protested against it, and they


think they should listen for. 90% were opposed. Shouldn't they


take notice of that? People should be listened to. Eric Pickles ruled


that nuclear waste to could be stored in a satin sheer, angering


one of his own MPs. -- in Northamptonshire. It flies in the


face of everything the Government has been saying about localism. The


last Labour government changed the rules so that nuclear waste could


be dumped far away from where it is generated. Eric Pickles chose to


ignore are referendums. Campaigners say they feel betrayed. There was a


fair degree of cynicism about politicians in general, what they


say and what they do do not meet. We are very angry and it


illustrated to as the fine words that we hear coming out of Eric


Pickles's mouth is not backed up by the deeds he undertakes. Heading to


King's Lynn, they are fighting plans for a �600 million


incinerator. For a referendum came out against it here. If they ignore


what people want on this, though Localism Bill is dead in the water.


Where people feel strongly enough to come out in large numbers, and


that decision is absolutely clear cut, it has to be respected. If


you're not going to respect it, you have no business being in


government. The local council had the referendum, they have listened


to local people. The Localism Bill enables -- enabled this referendum


to take place. Our referendum was one of the first in the country and


people have voted against it. Experts say people's expectation of


the Localism Bill is not realistic. Ministers have given a greater


impression that the Localism Bill will allow everybody to get


everything they want, than is ever going to be the case. There will be


some at national planning decisions made at a national level and some


major ones made at a county or district level. Local people will


just have to put up with big. typical of the Government. They do


not take notice of anything people say. Neither this Government or the


past government. Not very democratic these days. Legal


challenges are now being made in both parts of the region.


Campaigners will make their views We have moved up the road to


Rockingham Castle where the parliamentary supporting Roundheads


battled against the monarchist Cavaliers in the civil war.


Democracy has grown since then and now the Government says its


Localism Bill will set the foundations for the big societies.


People are voicing concern because they could be facing cuts of up


their own. We have been looking at a charity which helps young


families in Northamptonshire. Leanne's eldest son has severe


cerebral palsy. Throughout his life, she has had support from a charity.


Today, one of their volunteers is helping her it take Robbie and his


younger brother to the park. Leanne is in little doubt that without the


charity's support, the pressure would have become too much.


Sometimes it would be the only time in the week I would leave the house,


when my lady came. We would go for a walk, feed the ducks and have a


chat. Without the support, where would you have been? I dread to


think. I would not have a left the house. Things like a family shop


would have been impossible. You cannot pursue a wheelchair, manage


a baby and pursue a pushchair as well. The charity embodies many of


the principles of the big societies. The volunteers support 80 families


a year. It can appear that you are giving and not getting, but


actually you do get a lot. It might not always the obvious what you do


get. So volunteering is a two-way process? It is. Tough times lie


ahead, last week, a volunteer organisations in Suffolk with their


concerns about the Big Society. All at a time when there Grant's face


being cut. The there is not going to be an emergency bail-out. We may


do it for Eurozone countries, but they will have to find cost saving


from the back office. At home start, it is hard to see where it can cut.


It only has two full-time staff. Soon it will learn if grants for


its funding will be renewed. I do not see that the Big Society means


anything for us, because we are already doing it. Do you fear it


will affect your funding? If they need the money to be spread further


afield, obviously it will be affected. And that, inevitably,


would mean less help and support for families that need it.


The minister for civil society visited the region recently. Nick


Conrad caught up with him to discuss the big societies. He began


by asking him what it means clear - -? It is about giving people more


or responsibility over their lives and there public services that they


use. It is the government trying to support people who want to get more


involved in their communities. It is giving people a sense it is


worth getting involved locally, your voice will be heard. Will we


change that overnight, no. You say it is not about helping the


Government, but the Government has taken away core grants which are


affecting some of these charities. There is the need to reduce public


expenditure, radically, because we cannot go on spending �120 million


a day in interest. The stuff we want to do, the Big Society agenda,


it is really about how communities will work in the future, how public


services get delivered, giving people more power. That is what we


want to do, that is a long-term agenda us. I put it to you that


people's support for the Big Society has been rather


underwhelming. Now charities are turning to the Government saying


they did not have the might of people they need to continue with


their services. Running charities is very difficult. They are used to


managing through tough times. can see the full interview on our


website. We have come inside the castle, in a moment we will meet a


professor who is the vice chancellor of the University of


Northampton. First, let's niche the Conservative MP for South


Northamptonshire. The Labour MP for Luton South and an audience of


interested parties. Giving more people a say in


planning has to be a good ambition, doesn't it? It is a good ambition.


Some of the things we will talk about today will drop out that


there is a tension between the big, national infrastructure take


decisions and not overbearing local communities at the same time. Our


guiding position should be, if it is important for the national


interest we go with that, but everything else should be locally


decided. Andrea, would you say the problem with localism is that


basically people's hopes have been raised and then dashed again?


at all. The Bill is going through Parliament at the moment so we are


in a bit of a grey area where we are still under legislation passed


by the previous government and we are waiting to approach this brave,


new world where local people will have their say on local issues.


That does not mean all infrastructure projects that are in


the national interest can be included in that. There needs to be


an area where the government still has a say. Roger Kingston wants to


come in here. He is from a residence alliance and is concerned


about lack of infrastructure. There are 20,000 houses to the west of


North Hampshire being built, localism is working for you or not?


It is not working for us. We are still governed by an on


democratically elected quango. We have not yet have the


infrastructure completed for the housing estates that we live on. We


hoped that this new coalition government would give us some say,


some control over that. But I understand that it is not possible.


Andrea, what you make of that? You said this government would deliver


planning power back to local authorities who know and understand


the local area. The issue is, as I said, we are in a grey area. To get


rid of the corporation before 23rd team that would require primary


legislation. It takes so long to reverse the some of these top down


planning policies that were introduced by the last government.


Likewise with the regional spacial strategy that has done so much


damage to Northamptonshire, in terms of planning that was not


wanted, it is difficult to put a stop to it. What about the


referendums, local people can instigate a referendum. That is an


ambitious plans. It is an interesting idea. One of my


concerns is that we have a system of democratic accountability which


involves selecting people to stand locally to represent their own area.


I have concerns we are undermining local government in some of those


initiatives. What about the rest of the audience? Does anyone believe


localism is working? We had a referendum under the old rules, I


know the localism Bell has not been passed yet, we were supporting our


local council because they had turned down planning for the


radioactive waste to be stored. 98% of people who voted did not want it


and it was overturned by the Secretary of State who said, as you


have said, national interest tactics President of a local


interest. I would say, where has been the national debate. Do you


have a response? I have every sympathy. I am very concerned about


that particular issue. There needs to be a national debate about


radioactive waste. With regards to the Localism Bill, everybody would


agree that localism does not mean you can just say, nothing we do not


want will ever happen here. No-one believes that is possible. Nuclear


waste is a very different issue, but where incinerators, even wind


farms where I personally am very questioning of the technology, but


I do think there are issues and big projects where government national


interest has to hold sway over localism. I do want to move on to


big society. Nick, you university is a socially enterprising


university. You obviously see this sector growing in the future. In


what ways will it grow? There are a number of ways we can see it grow.


One example would be helping people set up companies, they could be


third sector, charity organisations, or perhaps part of the public


services which have been outsourced. Help them to create their own


companies and take charge of their own destiny through setting


themselves up as social entrepreneurs. The profits that


they generate, and the key thing here is that these entities must be


profit generated, that money is ploughed back into the good of the


company. It does not go to shareholders. Let's talk about


voluntary projects. At the beginning of the programme we went


to see that Forest that has been developed in Corby. What about this


label, the big societies. Do you like it? Not really. In Corby we


have developed a partnership approach to these things over many


years. People volunteer in Corby because they want to help each


other, they want to help local residents. Corby people are cheesed


off to be part of what, to me, it seems nothing more than a


rebranding exercise by the Conservative Party. With cuts


affecting local community groups, the ability to be able to do these


things has been reduced. Devon, what about this basic premise of


encouraging communities to work together, to look after themselves?


It is a great idea. I am a massive advocate behind the ideas of the


great -- the big societies. The problem, and it has been put more


articulate than -- articulately than I ever could, is that the


money is not there to do it. We are beginning to see more social


enterprises, charities, other groups, go to the wall because they


cannot receive that funding. It is unfair to raise people's hopes in


this way, and then to dash them by not giving the money out in the


first place. Andrea, a good idea, that branding? The Big Society is


more of a vision. There is no doubt the people in this country have


volunteered for years. Four fifths of everything that goes on in the


country is somebody caring for someone else. The Big Society is


not a policy, it is more of a vision. In the last Budget, the


government enabled charities to claim the gift Aid, and to enable


people we want to bequest money to a charity when they died to pay it


to the charity instead of the Exchequer. It enables people to


volunteer more, it is about encouraging companies to let their


staff volunteer. It is not some kind of brand that people have to


slot into. Barney, I know you were from the Home-Start charity that we


featured. How do you see the future? The future for at this game


in the county as well as Northampton is that we have


confirmed funding until the end of September. We would then be


entering into a negotiating a discussion. Generally, do you feel


the idea of a big society is catching up on? I think it has been


oversold. That is the problem. We got very excited during the run-up


to the election. Professor, finally to you, as far as young people go,


they are future. If they can add to a bigger society, it can add value


to them? I think so. There is an enormous at -- appetite from our


students with volunteering. Last year, we volunteered 26,000 hours


to local communities. That is about �0.5 million. Universities have a


great role in society to develop the notion of volunteering for.


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