Ministers to push Big Society idea


Eric Pickles said the plans will put new rights in law for people to protect, improve and run frontline services

The coalition will push ahead with its “Big Society” agenda next week by unveiling rights for communities to take over local services and vote on new housing developments.

Under the Localism Bill, local residents will have more opportunity to compete against private companies to run services.

The legislation, to be published on Monday, will create:

:: A right to buy significant local buildings. If the council decides to sell property, communities will receive extra time to develop their bid.

:: Rights for the community to question how services are being run, and potentially take them over. This could include children’s centres, social care services or transport.

:: More rights for communities over planning, deciding where developments of new homes should go and protecting green spaces.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This powerful series of measures puts new rights in law for people to protect, improve and even run important frontline services.

“For too long people have been powerless to intervene as vital community resources disappear from their areas. The Community Rights measures will put control back where it belongs – with the people at the heart of our villages, towns and cities.”

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations said the measures are a “welcome step” towards giving local people a greater say.

But chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington warned: “The goal should not be simply transferring assets out of the public sector for the sake of it, and the success of the new community rights will hinge on close partnership working between councils and local people.”

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