By Councillor Ian Holt - The Localism Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 December 2010, and was given Royal Assent on 15 November 2011, becoming an Act.
An Act introduced by the Conservative and LibDem alliance. Its intention is to provide a devolution of services and bureaucracy to local ie Parish Level and to enable local communities to "buy in" to "The Big Society."
Not bad you might be thinking at first glance.
Communities can finally take charge of their own?
However, there's always been a proviso with Governance. You don't get anything for free!
So, why would the government want to devolve governing power to community level?
Well try this as a way of explanation?
We all know that the coalition inherited an economy on the brink of collapse.
That hasn't changed believe me. It has just been staved off for a short period.
Based on the Keynesian model of economic theory (of which Mr. Osborne is a keen adherent) the only way to break out of a no growth, failing economy is by infrastructure building.
Transport Networks including Roads, Train lines and Airport Terminals and Housing.
By 7 May 2015 the next General Election will be called. Sometime up to and including this date the announcement will be made that a grand scheme of works is to be instigated within the UK.
As part of this theory monetary policy dictates a general drop or cut in interest rates. At present this cannot be enacted as rates are already at an all time low and have been for some years.
So, therefore the fiscal part of the theory will be initiated soon.
Now here is where the devolving powers element comes in.
All Councils from County down to Parish can, under the localism bill, purchase land not already owned by them.
They may maintain the land, as in most cases they will be large areas of greenery maybe parkland.
They can buy this land, just as a community committee can, under the asset transfer scheme. http://mycommunityrights.org.uk/community-asset-transfer/
The "asset" once registered then can be sold. However, it has to be at a reduced purchased price.
So, there lies the con!
Huge swathes of land are now being bought up by Councils up and down the UK by corrupt Coalition Council Leaders.
Why is this a problem? Don't Councils own much of the land within a District, Town or City?
This may be true in part but it is the reason for purchase?
I stated that soon infrastructure building will begin? You will be seeing new Housing Estates springing up where once your children used to play football or play in the park.
As your already crowded estates become even more so who will fill these houses? Can your area sustain more workers? Can your already ill supported services sustain more tenants British or otherwise?
More importantly once these areas are built on they've gone forever !
Take Penrith, Cumbria as an example. The District Council are trying vainly to fill a massive budget shortfall caused by failed projects and future speculation.
They have recently put into force several of these asset purchases.
They have already stated that these areas have already been outlined for further affordable housing.
Why? Penrith has no further requirement for housing. A recent development of such housing has received very little if any interest and all lots remain empty as this is written.
A recent large development including affordable housing and a new shopping development was bulldozed through with the Councils full endorsement even after a Public consultation voted 84% against the development.
How? The financiers were Sainsbury's.
Need I say anymore?Sainsbury’s itself, a colossal complex, is empty on its best retail days. Included within the new complex are a range of retail premises.
There have been no takers which re-enforces the notion that the town cannot sustain further retail space. Sainsbury's has therefore had to delay the opening (which was to be October) to the Spring.
Now the once small market town of Penrith, once a jewel on the edge of the Lake District, faces an uncertain future of building on an unprecedented scale.
Yet another Supermarket is on the cards. Penrith a population of approx 16,000 clearly cannot and does not justify this complete failure of the local planning department.
So in conclusion all I can advise is to keep your eyes and ears to the ground and if any of the Localism Act is being abused by your Council to let the Party know, get a group or protest committee together, notify the local press, leaflet all the local residents ......... and above all
Demonstrate, Demonstrate, Demonstrate!
It'll get you everywhere!