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Welcome to my blog. Im always looking for new ways of bringing people together to build campaigns. Im always amazed by the energy and passion of the people I meet and the different skills they bring to making change happen - the ideas we try out, the campaigns we work on, the relationships we build together. I want to share those stories with you. I hope you enjoy them!

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unlock democracy and sustainable communities

You may have seen the Unlock Democracy advert in the Guardian today. This Friday, the Sustainable Communities Bill goes back to the House of Commons for its third reading debate. The Labour-dominated public bill committee has scrutinised every clause in the Bill and made significant revisions to the text, but has retained its underlying purpose.

As the Communities Minister Phil Woolas MP told the Parliamentary Labour Party in March:

"it is for local people and their elected representatives to determine how best to ensure that their community is sustainable."
We agree, and that is exactly what the Sustainable Communities Bill will deliver: an action plan that gives local people more control over their communities and environment and helps prevent further decline of local post offices, shops, pubs, services, jobs and local communities.

The Government's own Local Government Bill already devolves power to councils. The Sustainable Communities Bill complements and takes this further, enabling councils and local people in a partnership with government to decide on the policies needed, and turn the top-down world of 'Whitehall-knows-best' upside-down by:

Requiring that government co-operates with local councils and that councils co-operate with their communities in deciding what needs to be done (not just another consultation, in which decisions are made centrally).
Requiring that representative citizens' panels are set up to involve communities in that process.
Ensuring that all sections of society are involved, by requiring that steps are taken to engage the most disenfranchised sections of society – poor people, council tenants, ethnic minorities, young people, those with disabilities and older people.
Requiring the government to report to Parliament on progress in reversing community decline.
Giving power to councils and communities, to suggest re-allocation of money spent locally on local matters by government agencies or non elected 'quangos'.
All of this was agreed in committee despite the deep hostility of the civil service who sought to water the bill down. We are grateful to Phil Willis and his Labour colleagues for not bowing to this pressure, but we still have some way to go before this Bill becomes law, and this Friday is absolutely crucial.

You can help it on its way by doing three things:

Write to your MP (at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA) asking him/her to be present in Parliament on 15th June to support the Bill;
Get in touch with us to offer your help. Please contact Peter Facey, Unlock Democracy, 6 Cynthia Street, London N1 9JF, or email info@unlockdemocracy.org.uk;
Write to Phil Woolas (at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA) thanking him for his support for the bottom-up mechanisms in this Bill.

cocktail alert!

Unlock Democracy is restarting its successful series of Democracy Drinks, hopefully on a more regular schedule from now on.

Come along and meet with other people working in the democracy sector. And get there early to take advantage of the Clockwork's marvelous cheap cocktails!

email here



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