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How should local planning decisions be made?

10:22 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, is to announce reforms to the planning system in England giving more decision-making powers to local people. Do you welcome the shift to more local power?

As councils in England await news of funding cuts from central government, plans to give communities more power are also due to be outlined giving groups in local communities greater scope to take over control of some services from councils.

The minister said the Localism Bill would make it easier for local people to take ownership of buildings such as redundant pubs, redundant shops, redundant post offices and school buildings as well as introducing "neighbourhood planning" - to allow neighbourhoods to "determine the look and the shape of their communities".

Will the changes empower councils to handle services differently? Is this a good way of bringing power back to local communities?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    What used to be called `Local planning´ with regards to medical services then became known as the `Postcode lottery´. What do we want?

  • Comment number 2.

    Anything that, in principle, takes away power from local authorities is be a good thing.

  • Comment number 3.

    It might sound very democratic but actually it's pie in the sky. The reason is that it is very difficult to reach consensus on, say, how a building should look. Why, in our village even a few activists cannot agree on parking regulations. And there is another problem. The decision makers become by definition the activists, self-selected, unaccountable. One man's 'traffic improvement' is another's gridlock. Who shall choose?

    The next problem is that many councils are immune to political change even when utterly inept (e.g. Doncaster) so there is no democratic accountability, especially when many voters do not actually pay anything in, so they will always vote for more spending - since it does not cost them a penny. And have you seen how many non-British immigrants are given immediate local voting rights? We need to improve the overall standard of governance.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's all twaddle. 'easier for the local population etc' just means privatising services so that international corporations can get their hands on tax payers money to provide poorer services with less staffing costs. Cut's by any other name.....

  • Comment number 5.

    I'd like to know how this is going to make any difference. If we can get away from a system where 95% of local people object to a third supermarket in town and it still gets built then it will be a good thing. What we really need is a system where money can not change hands under the table to gain advantage. Or is there a good reason why 95% of local people are ignored in favour of a multi billion pound retailer?

  • Comment number 6.

    This isn't about "handing power back to local communities", it's about shifting the blame away from the government - and the same cynical thread runs throughout a number of ConDem policies.
    Whether it's elected police chiefs, GP's managing the health service budget, so called free schools or local authority spending, all these Condem policies have one thing in common: an attempt to shift accountability away from the government and onto the shoulders of others.
    If you don't like the results, don't bother complaining to the government. They'll just say it's nothing to do with them any more because they've devolved powers to others. Perhaps, but as long as they control the purse strings - which they always must - I for one will still hold them accountable.
    These strategies amount to nothing more than a cheap con trick designed to fool us into thinking that, when things go bad (which they will), it's not the government's fault. Don't be fooled into believing anything this bunch of shysters say.

  • Comment number 7.

    Fine in theory if you're talking about conservatories and house extensions.

    All it means is that anything of national significance which ultimately benefits everyone and the economy overall but usually has a large localised impact will take even longer and be more expensive to deliver. And the risks of planning failure will be too great for the private money, so the state will end up paying even more.

    Think roads / railways / power stations / major critical infrastructure / water and waste treatment plants / wind turbines / office buildings / warehouses / industrial premises / prisons etc etc... All essential to a competitive economy and civil society but nobody wants to live next door to them.

    It doesn't take a genius to work out that if a much greater power to decide is gifted to the local community, there will always be a reason why these things should be built on someone elses doorstep!

  • Comment number 8.

    Didn't we have this topic but a few weeks ago. Is HYS now just stuck in a loop like an old computer thereby avoiding raising more "sensitive" and very important issues?
    Anyway same old same old, Mr Pickles and Red Herring a tasty dish. There is bound to be some ulteria motive behind the move.
    As always there will be much talk and as always they will do exactly as they please at the end of it usually lining their own pockets and strnethening power.
    Then we all get thoroughly fed up of spoon fed lies and deciet and welcome back Mr Milliband and newer than new even whiter than before great hope.... It all makes no difference.

  • Comment number 9.

    This has the potential to block any change at all as well as ease local decisions, it's a double edged sword. One persons house extension is anothers blot on the landscape. It also will bring even more accusations of back handers from developers to what will, it seems, be unelected representatives. Not sure I see any real improvements coming from this idea.

  • Comment number 10.

    Local people have power already. I was working on a high rise development in central Manchester. The original design towered far above all the adjacent buildings. The local residents objected to the planning application (as is their right to) and it was re-designed. The system works already. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  • Comment number 11.

    More say for the people has to be a good thing.

  • Comment number 12.

    A national framework should be put in place with checks and balances tp prevent even more abuse by corrupt councillors, politicians and local authority executives
    Only those persons living immediatey adjacent any proposed development, large or small, should have a say.
    Where a davelopment is in the strict national interest, eg power station, then the views of nimbies must be disregarded

  • Comment number 13.

    Whilst it does seem noble to pass major decisions down to local communities I believe that people are not ready for this type of government.

    It is a sad fact of life these days that people want it handed to them on a plate, I have seen this by working in a public domain for the last 6 years, they do not want to be inconvenienced in anyway and they are not prepared to assist, or make allowances. I had a car park very recently that some areas could not be used due to snow, that did not interest the public they wanted to park there “Full Stop” The public believe that things can happen at a drop of any hat and people in my position just wave a magic wand and make things happen.

    99% of people would refuse to work in such dangerous conditions, yet will not see snow and ice as a problem when it inconveniences them.

    So to the Point, will this kind of local control work?

    No, because if you have an hundred people you will have hundred different views and no one will like to compromise and maybe alter their views in a debate.

  • Comment number 14.

    Typical incoherent Condemned thinking.
    If you ask most communities if they want to maintain services such as libraries ,sports centres etc they will almost always say yes .If you then give them the opportunity to say if they want local community charges reduced they will also say yes.

    One is utterly inconsistent with the other.

    This is simply another attempt by the condemns to shift the blame for the devastating effects of their cost cutting agenda from where it belongs (the instigators) to those who have to deal with the consequences.

  • Comment number 15.

    Eric Pickles is MP for Brentwood and Ongar. 'Bored Town' is an anagram of Brentwood.

    Just a thought...

  • Comment number 16.

    Nice idea in principle....BUT this sounds like a NIMBY's dream come true! No social housing in my neighbourhood....homeless hostels...NO...prisons..NO....big smelly factory NO.....airport extension....never!

    Local people do know whats needed in their neighbourhood, but they also have a vested interest in keeping it how they want it, meaning that they are inherantly biased towards only 'nice' projects.

  • Comment number 17.

    Re : Post 2, total idiocy.
    Re Post 6: Grasps the essential point of this coalition of the right's agenda.
    Cameron's 'Big Society' translates to laissez-faire government where individuals are on their own and the services previously supplied by the State or by local authorities are put in the hands of the private sector.
    Secondary and Higher Education, with 'Free' Schools and the tripling of tuition fees are at the beginning of the privatisation process. Landsley's GP's Commissioning initiative will lead to the private sector taking over the NHS.
    The ending of local authority requirement to provide housing is the continuation of the Tory drive to leave housing provision entirely in the hands of the private sector.
    Privatisation, Profit Maximisation,the choice of the cheque book is what this coalition is all about.
    This proposal to allow local groups to 'challenge' local authority provision of a service, with the bias towards the local authority having to hand over the service to a local group. This will lead to local services being privatised, becoming fee based and pricing people out of provision. What will be the makeup of these local groups, civic minded locals or business interests looking for a profit stream?

  • Comment number 18.

    How should local planning be decided, the answer is with a lot more sense than it has been.

    The town I live in was once beautiful, then the first wave of wnaton destruction began in 1960 when the old corn market building, a perfect example of victorian gothic was bulldozed and replaced by a concrete and glass supermarket called Fine Fare!

    Then all hell broke lose, and Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian masterpieces were systematically destroyed and replaced with more glass and concrete.

    This also happened everywhere, these buildings can never be replaced, the destroyers should have been imprisoned for life in my opinion.

  • Comment number 19.

    How should local planning decisions be made?

    By LOCAL people and not by the corrupt Planning Departments and their equally corrupt political masters!

    Planning departments should exist to assist local people / community groups make decisions nothing more nothing less.

  • Comment number 20.

    Openly unlike the 'brown envelope' policy that some areas seem to have - passing eysores for millionaires but denying modest homeowners basic plans

  • Comment number 21.

    Our local council have their own agenda when it comes to re-developing our city. Every proposal their 'visionaries' have come up with has been vehemently opposed by the local population but, they have gone ahead anyway. This has not only wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of the local taxpayers money but, has made the city an eyesore and driven people away.
    We don't like being in the position where we have to say 'we told you so' but, at the local elections they did say yhey would represent 'local peoples views'. In fact, the opposite is happening, our local Tory MP was bussed in from 268 miles away to 'represent' us?, 6 of the 13 'local' councillors live outside the county?
    Happy days!

  • Comment number 22.

    I quite agree that the people who live in the local community should have more say about the planning issues which affect that community.

    I'm sick of borough committees without members from the locale making decisions about it. Gypsy camps, supermarkets, new roads etc. never seem to get approved in areas where the majority of the planning committee live though.

  • Comment number 23.

    i always failed to see why anybody should be allowed to tell me what i can and cannot do with my own land and house.
    why should a guy living 2 doors down be allowed to say i cant extend my house or build a conservatory?

  • Comment number 24.

    Our local council have their own agenda when it comes to re-developing our city. Every proposal their 'visionaries' have come up with has been vehemently opposed by the local population but, they have gone ahead anyway.
    -----
    They have been taking the condemned government as their role model, eg NHS reforms.

  • Comment number 25.

    The NIMBY charter?

  • Comment number 26.

    11. At 11:26am on 13 Dec 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    "More say for the people has to be a good thing."

    No it doesn't. Sure, the relevant people need to be consulted, but as general principle, the more people you get involved, the more opinions there are, and then nothing gets done. The planning process in this country takes far too long as it is. Local people already have the right to object to an application, and if you read my other post, it works.

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 12:23pm on 13 Dec 2010, scotty1694 wrote:
    why should a guy living 2 doors down be allowed to say i cant extend my house or build a conservatory?

    ====

    That depends on whether or not it affects his aspect. If your extension means he looks at a brick wall instead of, say, some countryside or hills then he does at least have a right to give input.

  • Comment number 28.

    My neighbours seem to have jumped the gun on this localism thingy. They have attempted to improve the lighting in the street by introducing blue lights flashing interactively with white ones (just to prevent glare I assume), opened a theme park complete with an oldish man with white beard in a red suit in a sledge pulled by a thingy looking a little like something with antlers, and improved animal husbandry by building a stable with some frozen people standing around admiring a fixated baby in a manky manger surrounded by sheep who look malnourished.

    I do hope Mr Pickles comes to visit.

  • Comment number 29.

    Under the former labour dictatorship, voting for local polticians to represent the views of the electorate was pointless as comrade Brown and his cronies would override the will of the people for the greater good.
    So any change is welcome in my book and I might start voting in local elctions again

  • Comment number 30.

    Communities will also be told they have to include certain buildings and facilities such as social housing, maybe a wind farm (however large or small), recycling facilities etc. There is going to be division between neighbourhoods about what should be sited where, poor neighbourhoods will lose out to affluent neighbourhoods with more influence.

    The councils will struggle to keep control. Corruption could increase without any accountability (thanks to the govt's incredible decision to scrap the Audit Commission).

    Another ill thought-through plan being rushed through.

  • Comment number 31.

    I am always dubious about letting local politicians loose with the purse strings. Most are not trained economists, nor have many got degrees in political science. It is like letting the butcher loose as a brain surgeon. Then there is also the risk of them getting into issuing contracts to friends and family, that could be detrimental to the public purse.

  • Comment number 32.

    17. At 11:40am on 13 Dec 2010, LeftieAgitator wrote:
    Re : Post 2, total idiocy.
    Re Post 6: Grasps the essential point of this coalition of the right's agenda.
    Cameron's 'Big Society' translates to laissez-faire government where individuals are on their own and the services previously supplied by the State or by local authorities are put in the hands of the private sector.
    Secondary and Higher Education, with 'Free' Schools and the tripling of tuition fees are at the beginning of the privatisation process. Landsley's GP's Commissioning initiative will lead to the private sector taking over the NHS.
    The ending of local authority requirement to provide housing is the continuation of the Tory drive to leave housing provision entirely in the hands of the private sector.
    Privatisation, Profit Maximisation,the choice of the cheque book is what this coalition is all about.
    This proposal to allow local groups to 'challenge' local authority provision of a service, with the bias towards the local authority having to hand over the service to a local group. This will lead to local services being privatised, becoming fee based and pricing people out of provision. What will be the makeup of these local groups, civic minded locals or business interests looking for a profit stream?
    =================================
    100% correct.
    Saw Pickles interviewed yesterday about some of the specifics of this policy.
    He had no clue. The reason being that this isnt a policy to tackle specific local community problems - its an ideologic strategy to push everything to the private sector - where we will be at the mercy of private landlords and dodgy service providers. We will end up paying for a lousy service + plus a nice fat profit, once the public sector alternative has been closed down.

  • Comment number 33.

    27. At 12:38pm on 13 Dec 2010, Count Otto Black wrote:

    23. At 12:23pm on 13 Dec 2010, scotty1694 wrote:
    why should a guy living 2 doors down be allowed to say i cant extend my house or build a conservatory?

    ====

    That depends on whether or not it affects his aspect. If your extension means he looks at a brick wall instead of, say, some countryside or hills then he does at least have a right to give input.
    -----------
    ill agree with you there but unfortunately a lot of people object for no reason other than spite or jealousy

  • Comment number 34.

    27. At 12:38pm on 13 Dec 2010, Count Otto Black wrote:
    23. At 12:23pm on 13 Dec 2010, scotty1694 wrote:
    why should a guy living 2 doors down be allowed to say i cant extend my house or build a conservatory?

    ====

    That depends on whether or not it affects his aspect. If your extension means he looks at a brick wall instead of, say, some countryside or hills then he does at least have a right to give input.


    =========================================================================

    Totally agree with the Count. My only wish would be that the local councils would listen to us when their decisions to 'revamp' affect our aspects and our community.

  • Comment number 35.

    Anything that takes the decision making process away from people who have to court the public vote is a good thing.

    And the NIMBY question? Damn right. I fought a guy who wanted to knock a bungalow and build a three storied 5 unit block.

    I won. He lost about a hundred thousand quid.

    My wife and I have worked hard for what we have and I will not see it ruined by buffoons who blindly follow a central govt dictat to concrete over the south east.

    Selfish? You bet, and intending to stay selfish.

  • Comment number 36.

    Basically Councils should stick to emptying Bin
    ALL other present council matters should be tendered out by central government OR overseen by the Big Society ...

    Planning applications have alway been problematic for Councils ..
    Usually ends up with the council employing Private consultants !!!

    So Why not by pass the council in the first place and save on costs

  • Comment number 37.

    Lets see if I've got this right ? Local councils are getting less funding from central Government. Central Government are giving local councils more power. So these local powers are going to have to raise more funding locally ? It sounds like more spin for saying "you have to pay more" while sounding like we are being done a favour. Hmmmm.

  • Comment number 38.

    Power back to communities?? or back to local government? That's is certainly a BIG difference. As always, those living in communities would have little choice but bend to the "power" of those "in power". Local governments have not demonstrated lots of wisdom so far, how to trust them with "more power" in the little paws???

  • Comment number 39.

    I think it's a brillaint idea - it is time we get away from expecting everything being done for us and then complain how it is done. We all should be getting involved more, be that gritting outside our own front door, or be it making decisions that directly affect us. Maybe that will wake people up and make them more interested in local politics again as well. Shifting more decisions and responsibilities to the local people will not only save money, it will hopefully also bring pride and respects for one's surroundings back. We are not small children, we are grown-ups and we need to take back responsibilities and with that also gain rights to decide if we do want a Tesco Express or prefer to keep the village shop.

  • Comment number 40.

    So the Tories want all planning permissions to be handled by the NIMBY committee.

  • Comment number 41.

    Minimally.

    Get them out of our lives as much as possible.

  • Comment number 42.

    Planning keep it simply ... there is a Rule Book and a set of building regulations ...IF the builder or developer wishes to flaunt those rules or regs he does so at their peril..
    If the builders choose not to seek early local opinion and at a later date find themselves at loggerheads ...

    In doing away with Council planning involvement has far more advantages than disadvantages. It would also disolve the councils automatic right of compulsory purchase

  • Comment number 43.

    Until councils are made democractically accountable to their electorate this is all a waste of time!

    Just imagine this wonderful idea; your parish council made up of people who actually live in the area, the elected head of each parish getting a seat on the local borough council....and then the local parish people having the right of recall on their councilor if they dont do as the residents want (50% signatures of residents required).

    Just imagine it, its called democracy. And it would be how local planning decisions will actually reflect the will of the local residents.

    Or at least it would if any politician wanted democracy and actual local involvement.

  • Comment number 44.

    Wherever you have to apply and obtain permission for anything you will get corruption by the bucket load, which believe it or not is the worlds oldest profession, been around long before people though of selling their bodies .

  • Comment number 45.

    So let me get this right..........
    This unelected coalition are taking away billions from tax payers and giving it to bankers, handing all the blame for cuts over to local councils, who then invite local residents to decide what needs to go. In a nutshell it's my/your fault when the stuff hits the fan!!! Cameron/Clegg are not only lier's they are slimy, hence why we are on a slippery slope!

  • Comment number 46.

    I moved to my home in 1985. The local Council have allowed thousands of houses and flats to be built since. I no longer recognise the place.
    Two local churches and grounds - housing etates. Primary School - housing estate. Large sports ground (rugby and football pitches) now huge housing estate. High school - demolished for housing. Factory bordering parkland - now demolished for an enormous housing estate. Allotments - gone and now housing. Rugby stadium - to be rebuilt where no-one can get to it - to be replaced with yet another housing estate. People protested bitterly at the removal of social facilities - not replaced with anything at all.
    All of this within approx 4 square miles. Where any residents listened to before. No. The council quoted the 106 clause - or in other words what can the builders do for them......not us residents.
    The existing residents are noe either too old to want to relocate, and time will take over, and those of us young enough to now hate where we live are trying to sell up and leave.
    That for my Council is a sustainable community.

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    There are lots of aspects to 'planning'. Some need to be overseen by people who may have 'the bigger picture', and others may not.

    For instance, 'change of use' is a big planning thing, but 99% of the time probably doesn't need to be. If someone wants to work from home, so they change a bedroom into an office, that should go through the 'change of use' planning process, but it doesn't need to (and most people will probably 'forget' about doing it). (Similarly to change an office back into a bedroom). Or, if a pub is disused, why does it have to go through 'change of use' to change it into a house, flats or shops? (as long as the exterior doesn't change). Current rules/processes mean it's just more likely to stay disused.

    Then, there's minor exterior changes, such as small extensions (eg porches) and conservatories. There are actually already rules in place to allow those as long as they are under a certain size, but they're complex so could be simplified.

    There's also the "listed building" issue. Most listed buildings are NOT nationally significant! Yes, local people may like the look of them, but they're not having to pay for the upkeep.
    When was the last time an archaeologist or party of school children came to look at your listed house because it was so important? Why on earth does it matter that a listed building has to have its rotten windows replaced with proper sash windows rather than uPVC double glazing? (or is it better just to keep the rotten windows because £2000 per window to replace them is too expensive?). If the only time I'm going to look at the windows is as I drive past at 30mph, I really don't care. No one else does either, other than pencil pushers or interfering neighbours. So, let's unlist most of the listed buildings - those that don't really matter.

  • Comment number 49.

    "What The Council ever done for Us "
    Allegedly Conwy council sold of a site of a school (the school was still open ) to a Supermarket ,A new school was then built on a RUBBISH TIP !! ...
    The supermarket Chain knocked down the old school and built a Supermarket on that site creating all kinds of traffic problems

    As for the kids they happily work and play on the old waste site ,, The school itself looks like Giant Pig Ark's . They may the blend in with the former site BUT There is little doubt that if the locals had have had a SAY in the matter THINGS would have been totally different ..

  • Comment number 50.

    It sounds good in circumstances where many local residents have been ignored, and then have to live with a situation created by the Home Secretary who doesn't have to live with their decision, but who has been able to overrule the local council.

  • Comment number 51.

    We've built up a large catalogue of planning failures orchestrated largely by distant well paid desk potatoes, a simple example is building homes in active flood plains and positioning homes with poor southerly aspects thus not much good for free solar energy.

    It's not just planning, there a vast range of services and responsibilities being administered by distant county authority officers who fail to ensure local work is done correctly and then give local people the run round (wilful negligence) when they try and resolve such issues.

    These problems appear to be a national epidemic and in the long run cost the economy a great deal.

    In our view Local People and Town and or Borough Councils with the local knowledge and interest should be empowered to have some control over most things, it's the only way to fix the problem.

  • Comment number 52.

    Oh, I saw this one coming. It is about the people having a say in their lives but they are given multiple choice questions that all mean the same. That happens here in the USA and the Police State it's says, always wins and calls it's self the publics voice and choice.

  • Comment number 53.

    Not a good idea at all. I would expect a much increased incidence of local concern at decisions that may strain Councillors' impartiality to the very limit. OK if it's where the swings or toilets should go in the local park - they have already the freedom to decide that. But where bigger money is at stake there will inevitably be rumours and accusations of corruption or favouritism.

  • Comment number 54.

    It's all about the bigger picture .. When it comes to planning the councils ( a huge employer with hundreds of staff )will tell you that they have the Set up and only they have the set up to consider the bigger planning picture .. UMMM stop you there ...... How many actual council staff are involved in a planning application a hundred ? fifty ? TEN ? less than TEN ? Getting there .. A planning application tends to boil down to One or two council's staff members opinion...

    So lets not deluded ourselves and think that planning applications that are before a planning committee is the collective opinion of the whole of the council Or those that voted for the council .. Sorry councilors ..
    for planning dept workers are not elected ... The Planning officers may not even live with the boundary of their Council employers
    Sorry it is a no brainer... Locals should have the ultimate say

  • Comment number 55.

    I heard Eric Pickles on the radio this morning and I could not believe my ears. Dismantle the planning system at your peril Eric. Planners in Local Government are a very professional group of people with lots of experience. If you allow local zealots the opportunity to make decisions on things like local plans based on personal prejudices nothing will ever get built. We need to stop clowning around and get on with building publicly owned and managed social housing stock. The Blue and Yellow Maoists are wrecking the public services of this country without any democratic mandate, and Pickles is just pouring petrol on the fire of future protests.

  • Comment number 56.

    The Government plans will only allow local communities to be involved where it is not possible for a private business to make money, or save councils spending.
    Allowing people to help with libraries, post offices, etc is good, as it means that these services can continue.
    However, when it comes to things like Credit Unions, the Gowernment seem intent trampling social involvement, with their MyHomeFinance program.

    Credit Unions are local, social entities, organising local people to help local people financially. They help people keep out of the hands of loan sharks, and help where banks are unwilling to go.
    Now the Government set up MyHomeFinance, with the same aim about loan sharks. However, it is to be run by the RBS, one of the banks which encouraged people to get into problems in the first place. And it will charge a normal APR of 50% to boot
    With Government backing, MyHomeFinance has the potential to trample local Credit Unions under-foot.
    Where is the 'Big Society', and its nephew 'localism' now?

  • Comment number 57.

    I have seen how councils work from working on a commitee to dealing with and knowing local councilors in my borough. Let me say that there is mountains of inefficiency, procrastination and manipulation in my local authority. More devolvement in the say how things are done will very well fall into the hands of a determined minority and those with nothing better to do, who outweigh the commited prffesionals who give freely of their time. This is a recipe for disaster. Really you can save a lot if the councils tighten up their acts - trouble is that it will be circumvented by the people who are employed within this public service at all levels.

  • Comment number 58.

    All that will happen is that the local bunch of unelected busybodies called Civic Societies will have even more chance to put the kibosh on developments that will benefit the community. They already do under current rules - see the listing of the concrete monstrosity that is the Market Hall in Huddersfield just for the sake of half a dozen unseen columns. They'll be in their element with the new rules.

    Any development that will bring jobs to an area will be blocked in favour of "saving" some building that is no longer fit for purpose and cannot be made fit for use in the 21st century.

    However, Pickles (like many of his predecessors)is noted for saying one thing in public and then quietly doing the opposite when the detailed instructions are published.

  • Comment number 59.

    Engish Councils, and English people are bracing themselves from the slash and burn policy from Westminster.

    Do be aware, that only English tax-payers are under attack from Eric Pickles - devolved governments are not.

  • Comment number 60.

    The easy way and cheapest way is to let someone else do the job? and of course ,take the blame, The local councils are selling off all the expensive to run services' to the cheapest private companys or charitys who will provide a less, or much poorer service in many areas'Thats the big society in action !!! but this is only the start?

  • Comment number 61.

    It is a great idea in theory. If it stops back handers to the planning department to get things passed then all to the good.
    A lot of projects have been passed because it was good for business. If it affects normal people's lives then they have to be able to block or influence things.

  • Comment number 62.

    The basic problem is that as the tuition fees policy shows this Government takes us for fools. With the most amazing nerve they then expect the fools to lap at the chance to fill the gaps made by their vicious cuts, while at the same time brazenly cutting funds to the efforts already being made by volunteers and voluntary organisations. The Big Society is a fraud.

  • Comment number 63.

    So the nimbi’s win. I cannot build a house there because by fluke of history they got there first!
    This has to come the Libdem. No one else is so out of touch!
    Redundant pubs, Post Offices, good idea. Mr & Mrs Spiteful Nimbi of number 32, Planning Tsars.
    “Doomed I tell you. Doomed”
    How long before the first appeal on the grounds of race or religion?

  • Comment number 64.

    "How should local planning decisions be made"? is the misleading HYS question.

    This question on the back of slashing of government support for local communities as endorsed by Tory, Eric Pickles, Communities Minister.

    Ergo: local people fight against yet another supermarket in, or close to their high street - fight ignored - councillors allow 'on the nod'.

    If our Council Tax rises any higher than the 45% rise in the last 6 years as an excuse for Central Bedfordshire Council losing government funding - then ask why Alisair Burt MP is not planning to be ready for potential rises - if he's not too busy working in the Foreign Office btw.

  • Comment number 65.

    I run a small business in a small town. We are 'governed' by a town council, a district council and a county council (you can see where this is going!) and a year ago we, the businesses through our excellent Chamber of Trade and the local residents (who we work with very closely with) were asked to join a forum to draw up plans for the town over the next 10 years. It was planned to be an open and public committee of all the interested parties plus, unfortunately, the three councils. The draft plan was meant to be going to public consultation in January and, guess what? the incumbents of the council ivory towers are doing their best to spike the whole operation because it's threatening their over-paid, over-pensioned and underworked position on the greasy pole.
    The sooner these ghastly people are led gently out to spend their days by the sea the better. Of course there will still be rows and disagreements but having dealt with the layers of council incompetence for thirty years I cannot wait to see the back of them.

  • Comment number 66.

    Certainly not by a half-dozen self-interested NIMBYs, which is what might well happen if this goes ahead!

    Councils are required to produce local plans for area development - controlling what will be built, where.
    They have planning committees who have the very tricky job of assessing each application against regulations and asking local residents for their opinions. This stops people ploughing up green belt and adding ludicrous extensions to their houses.

    Remove the council control and the NIMBYs will step right in!

  • Comment number 67.

    btw - my son has just informed me that I should stop posting on HYS and on all BBC political sites.

    Why? Because he says it all matters too much to me. I'm shocked and grateful, all at the same time. His mum and my daughter have an opposite view as they also post on the BBC on what really matters to humanity.

    It's hard not to feel tired and world weary when looking at extreme posts; and those usual streams of individual posters hijacking a debate with their own in-fighting. Fair enough - they have every right to do so.

    Perhaps my son is right - I am too old, too tired and too concerned.

  • Comment number 68.

    65% of the population couldn't give a monkey's.
    30% of the population simply don't have the intellect to properly understand the issues.
    5% of the population are born-again do-gooders or hard-core socialists who are already busy interfering with anything and everything they can.

    Plus ca change - centralise everything!

  • Comment number 69.

    Local referenda where only taxpayers - those who give to the community rather than simply take - enjoy the franchise. It is scandalous that in some council wards a minority of people pay council tax let alone PAYE yet they enjoy the same electoral decision making power. There should be no representation without taxation.

  • Comment number 70.

    Yes !


    Cllr Ken Tiwari (Parish R&S-Oxford)

  • Comment number 71.

    All hail the rise of Mickey Rooney-ism. "Let's put the show on in the backyard!"

    Like everything trumpeted as increasing choice it will be privatisation by the back door.

    Who do you think will step up to run local services once the well-meaning but ultimately ignorant and ill-prepared bunch of well-meaning local busybodies fall on their backside?

    Mr Pickles and Mr Cameron know a man who owns a company who will be able to do it. It will cost the same or more, the service will be poorer but some private individuals will make out like Bandits; and that's all the Tories really care about.

  • Comment number 72.

    How does that work again, Norman?

    "commited prffesionals who give freely of their time."

    Professional: 2 (of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime : a professional boxer.

  • Comment number 73.

    @43

    "Until councils are made democractically accountable to their electorate this is all a waste of time!"

    So their election process and fixed term of office with the opportunity to vote against them should you not agree with their decisions, or take issue with their past performance is not democratic accountability then?

    Where is this sudden wave of community spirit coming from? Have all those people who haven't bothered participating in local elections for all these years suddenly been energised with the spirit of community anarchy underpinning "Call-Me Dave's" Big Society? Just because "Binkie" in the Bullingdon Club put himself forward to go to the bakers to buy extra bread rolls to throw around restaurants every year, and "Ozzers" always collected the dry cleaned dinner jackets doesn't mean it translates into society at large does it?

  • Comment number 74.

    EnglishTeaparty wrote: "Local referenda where only taxpayers - those who give to the community rather than simply take - enjoy the franchise. It is scandalous that in some council wards a minority of people pay council tax let alone PAYE yet they enjoy the same electoral decision making power. There should be no representation without taxation. "

    Hear! Hear!

  • Comment number 75.

    @69

    So presumably then you would also be against those tax avoiding corporations and companies being able to exercise influence by lobbying then? I mean, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander isn't it?

  • Comment number 76.

    As Chairman of a local Residents Association this is an ominous development. We barely have the time and resources to get a light bulb changed, and issues on local village halls and planning applications already absorb the free time of most people.

    Local councils were developed to provide local services. They have strayed into being bureaucratic monsters, but the fundamental role they provide is still one that is needed for the effective running of day to day services.

    Putting planing in the hands of amateur enthusiasts will bring disharmony into communities - at least we happily can hide behind council officers at the moment.

    The idea of local people regaining some control over councils that have had 30 years of central direction is great - but the reality is that local people do not have the time, resources, desire or ability to take on the role that the councils are already there to provide.

  • Comment number 77.

    One could hope for a self-regulating population such that laws, council decisions and so on could be more flexible and sophisticated. However it may theoretically and presently be the case that it only takes a small number of people to cause significant damage within such a system.

  • Comment number 78.

    It will achieve the desired result-taking away blame from government.When there is no agreement over where to put new houses,when there is no agreement over how much should be cut further off front line services(which surely will come on top of the government announced cuts)when there doesnt appear to be enough "volunteers"to do all the caring jobs,lollipop duties,soc9ial work,teaching etc etc.when the hived off services to Tory friends start jacking up prices for yet my profit,when the council tax doesnt go down but up and up and up-THEN the stupid voters will see they have been taken for ride but it will all be too late because dont expect any future government to re-instate the services after this bunch of losers are thrown out.

  • Comment number 79.

    If we are expected to run local services as volunteers - libraries/care homes/transport etc, WHEN do we have the time to go to work and earn a living? Or does Pickles think we're all on the dole? Or is he going to see to it that nobody actually has paid employment, but that we all work for nothing running the community - a form of latter-day serfdom? Suggest pickles joins his pie....in the sky!

  • Comment number 80.

    More hype from the pickle factory.

    I live in a National park, the quango goes on unreformed, no democracy just unelected muliti jobbed folk who can control every aspect of my life to ensure we remain a beauty spot!!

  • Comment number 81.

    utter madness. All this means is that the wealthy, well resourced nimbys will fight every planning application forcing it all into the poorer areas of the community. This is just taken us right back to the dark ages. Well done Dave.

  • Comment number 82.

    Not by the numpties that run our council thats for sure.

  • Comment number 83.

    All these plans smack of allowing pushy and overbearing people steamroll the quiet and happy.

    We will see more and more special interests and the sort of people taking control will be those who usually have an axe to grind or a high opinion of themselves.

  • Comment number 84.

    This is one of those policies using clever spin to void councils from all blame.

    You can't blame councils for selling a townhall or what ever, to a commercial entity if they give the residents enough opportunity to place a bid for it and noone bothered to turn up.

    Or, a bad desicion gets made, well you should have veto'd it.

    Or, poor local ecconomy and no local jobs, well you veto'd plans for a business park or supermarket that could have created jobs as well as keep local businesses open.

    Or, council dropping youth centre because of lack of funding, well, why don't you running it for us so we don't to pay people to run it.

  • Comment number 85.

    How should local planning decisions be made?

    Ithink the New Oxford dictionary needs to update some words

    CHOICE= Deceitful political pretence that everyone benefits.

    DEMOCRACY= (English useage) whereby a minority elect a majority governing government and dictate to the majority (excluding devious Lib Dem deals behind closed doors to gain membership at governing table and join with dictatorial government again which electors have not voted for)

    Giving more decision-making powers to local people= exterminate existing systems and put in place a different system condusive to party affiliate needs which can then circumvent opposition via greasing enough palms to carry forward desired plans.

    Fact is, MOST people just want to get on with their lives & NOT have to get involved in loads of decisions, which is why we pay supposid professionals etc to look after OUR BEST interests and NEEDS.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think local authorities have become too bloated (often because of central govt inititatives) and we have all got used to somebody else sorting things out for us.

    We should all get more involved with local democracy and treat local authority spending as being our own money (which, it mostly is).

  • Comment number 87.

    Whatever the system, we must speed up the planning / decision making process both for local and national projects. We must also ensure that the great unwashed who bus themselves into communities simply to oppose planning proposals they don't like is stopped. Community issues must be determined by those who live in the community itself. That clearly rules out all this tosh about the wider community, the national community or the earth community. I sincerely hope this Government is not going soft on the critical planning issues we face about energy security.

  • Comment number 88.

    Sounds like pure madness to me. The "nimby's" are emerging from their closets to stifle anything that is not in their own selfish interests. A good example is the local reaction to the proposed London to Birmingham high speed rail. (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11982504 ). The local landowners are out in force to stop this project whilst everyone else on the fringe can see that it is in the national strategic interest of the nation. If we are to compete in the international arena this country has to stop messing around and get building. Rail links, Nuclear Power Plants, Water Dams, Bridges and perhaps throw in some decent housing as opposed to the rubbish boxes that modern day developers aspire to build for occupiers but would certainly not live in themselves! This country is in a mess and any idea of localisation must be stifled or it will simply lead to national staganation.

  • Comment number 89.

    stevebrass is on the right track with: "I think local authorities have become too bloated (often because of central govt inititatives) and we have all got used to somebody else sorting things out for us.

    We should all get more involved with local democracy and treat local authority spending as being our own money (which, it mostly is)."

    Better still, we spend our own money, and cut out the middleman.

  • Comment number 90.

    It is a sad comment on life that decent people have to soil themselves with politics.

  • Comment number 91.

    My local council auctioned, by sealed bid, six family sized houses, suggested start prices of £16000 per house, I promptly placed a bid of £30,000 for one of the four 4 bedroomed houses, they all needed considerable amounts of work, between £5000-£10000, per house. Supposedly they would go to individual families, as stated in the newspaper advert, surprise, surprise, a local builder/developer was given all six for £74000, five were quickly "done up" and sold individually for upwards of £80000 a profit of almost half a million pounds, one remains, the one I bid on, it has had new double glazing but nothing else done, local builder is selling for £80000, if this is not corruption by local government I'd love to know what is, so yes I do think people should have more say in council business. As another example the council next to our own have been promising the earth for years, new roads, iconic bridge and all manner of grandiose ideas, feasibility studies conducted, architects commissioned, plans drawn and approved, then funding withdrawn, all at massive costs to the public purse while the town itself looks worse than it did post war. A lot of people making a lot of money from the public without any public benefit, they must think council tax is just there to dip into for themselves and their families as long as its done furtively and in an indirect manner, public referendum on any major decisions in councillors or MP's hands is the only way forward as they've proved time and time again, their greed makes them incapable of fair policy decisions.

  • Comment number 92.

    @75

    Yes, Absolutely.

  • Comment number 93.

    Local councils should have the FINAL say over whether and where houses, shops and offices are built in their area of jurisdiction. Central government should only have a say over national infrastructure items ie Power stations, High speed railway lines, motorways.

    If people don't like what the councilors decide, they should vote them out. If one can't be bothered to vote, then one has forfieted the right to a say.

  • Comment number 94.

    another layer of corruption on its way then. yes george of course you can build an extension and thanks for that necklace for the wifes birthday.
    Im sorry Mr Smith but that extension you required has been refused, I dont care how long youve lived in the village we just dont want your sort here
    Yep sounds like the same old nimbys are out in force again.

  • Comment number 95.

    As you read this, I am putting together a proposal to take over our local council.

    We'll be limiting ourselves to street lighting and emptying the bins (the only visible contributions from the incumbent): everything else can either be stopped or centralised. We'll also be announcing a 96% reduction in Council tax....

  • Comment number 96.

    69. At 3:56pm on 13 Dec 2010, EnglishTeaparty wrote:

    Local referenda where only taxpayers - those who give to the community rather than simply take - enjoy the franchise. It is scandalous that in some council wards a minority of people pay council tax let alone PAYE yet they enjoy the same electoral decision making power. There should be no representation without taxation.


    Everyone pays tax in some form or another.

  • Comment number 97.

    Any move that shifts decision-making on local issues from government and local authorities to the communities directly affected has to be welcomed. A considerable quantity of red tape and bureauocracy can be slashed, ridding taxpayers of a few more faceless, underworked and overpaid jobsworths.

    Matters such as housing and other developments should be dealt with by the people on the ground, thus eliminating the back-handers and other incentives offered by the building industry and supermarkets to councillors who don't live anywhere near the area. A register of all vacant properties could be maintained, and a by-law introduced permitting their compulsory occupation at a commercial rent only by married couples with/without children if not re-occupied within two months. That way, no new housing estates would be needed at all, and single parent families would have to move into their own parents' homes where they belong.

    The idea of community post offices, libraries and shops is not new. These can be found all over the UK and in my experience are a considerable improvement upon what was there before. No special skills are needed to run them once a few people with business sense get involved; an unselfish commitment to volunteer no more than half a day per week is all that is required. Negative-thinkers, cynics and all others with no aptitude or initiative need not apply as they would fail any job interview; they usually clog up the works like chickens without heads anyway.

    There are millions of pensioners with all the experience at their fingertips, so running such outlets will be no problem to them. Being used to hard work, they can often accomplish twice as much as those half their age, often by having no time for CVs, health and safety rules, and risk assessments.

    Bring it on!

  • Comment number 98.

    94. At 5:32pm on 13 Dec 2010, I_amStGeorge wrote:

    another layer of corruption on its way then. yes george of course you can build an extension and thanks for that necklace for the wifes birthday.
    Im sorry Mr Smith but that extension you required has been refused, I dont care how long youve lived in the village we just dont want your sort here
    Yep sounds like the same old nimbys are out in force again.


    Surely you are not so naive as to believe that people "donate" money to political parties out of the goodness of their hearts with no strings attached.

    Money buys you influence and privilege.

  • Comment number 99.

    So if a group wants to buy a library, how do they do it? How do they ensure staff are there when it counts (as now), as "some" (a minority, but a critical minority) volunteers can be a little unreliable, how do they buy the best titles, subscribe to the best databases - where does that money come from....seems like it will all cost more in the long run. But like Labour's disastrous PFI scheme it will be "off the books". So as in the 1980's everyone keeps harking back to Thatcher's Lost Generation, they were only lost in terms of jobs, now with no libraries, less education we'll have a generation who have no jobs as there aren't any, and no access to 'free at point of need' education and library services. Preposterous!

  • Comment number 100.

    Alfettaman has my vote with:

    "As you read this, I am putting together a proposal to take over our local council.

    We'll be limiting ourselves to street lighting and emptying the bins (the only visible contributions from the incumbent): everything else can either be stopped or centralised. We'll also be announcing a 96% reduction in Council tax...."

 

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