In October 2012 Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on Neighbourhood Planning regulations. The consultation aimed to consider whether the proposed approach to taking up the regulation making powers in the Localism Bill (now Act) with regard to neighbourhood planning struck the right balance between standardising the approach across the country and providing sufficient local flexibility to reflect local circumstances.
Urban Forum responded to the Government's inquiry on the Big Society.
We believe the starting point for community sustainability and resilience is self-organisation and collective action. We therefore support many of the objectives of Big Society, but feel that a number of issues need to be addressed if the opportunities it presents are to be realised:
The impact on disadvantage and inequality
There is a risk that greater reliance on civic action could result in a diversion of resources from areas that need them most and a loss of voice for minorities.
The timing and chronology of policy implementation
The timing, speed and the extent of public service cuts hamper the implementation of the Big Society agenda. VCS organisations are now struggling to survive, and public appetite/capacity for social and civic activity is reduced.
Putting localism in economic recovery and public service reform
Public service reform should lead to a blossoming of local providers close to communities, increased service-user involvement, and support local enterprise. The inverse of this is at risk of happening.
Making Government and public services more accountable
More needs to be done to strengthen and clarify the role of local government and councillors, and to apply measures on openness
Download our full response with the link, above right.
Urban Forum's response to the Open Data consultation - Making Data Real.
It is our view that open data offers considerable potential benefit for voluntary and community organisations and the communities which they work in. These include strengthening the accountability of the state to be more responsive to citizens' needs and ambitions, to enable local people to play a greater role in the design, delivery and review of services and in improving the transparency and accountability of charities to their beneficiaries. However there are a number of substantial challenges that need to be addressed in order to realise this potential.
Urban Forum has submitted it's response to the Draft National Planning Policy Framework 2011
- The Framework risks making local planning that is less responsive to local needs - including for affordable homes, renewable energy, and local economic development.
- The Framework implies that economic growth and arguments about economic viability should trump every time local community interests, including meeting social needs and environmental considerations.
- This could weaken not just local planning, but neighbourhood planning and de-motivate active community members from engaging with planning.
This is Urban Forum's response to the Coalition Government's Open Public Services White Paper (published in July, 2011), in which the Cabinet Office sets out its policy framework for how it wants public services to be owned, delivered and funded in the future, and the roles of the individual citizen and the state in this.
The White Paper sets out an overview of their programme for public services over the next few years. Some of the measures outlined are already underway (Free Schools, Academies Act 2010), some are being taken forward in legislation currently being debated in Parliament (the Health and Social Care Bill and the Localism Bill), and some will be subject to further development and consultation.