|H&F Planning Committee|
This follows numerous wars of words between the Council and residents, with the Council having funded an alternative residents group in order to have someone to agree with them. Until the chair of that group resigned in disagreement too. Money well spent.
Given that this apparently flies in the face of the Government's oft-quoted Big Society ideas of handing power to local people, especially where they already value their existing local communities, the residents are shooting over the councillors heads and aiming right for the man at the top.
Here's what they say on their "People's Estates" blog:
What will the Government do next year when the Council applies for consent to dispose of our homes? Will the Prime Minister champion his Big Society by refusing the sale and demolition of the People’s Estates? Will he empower us to take charge, or will he impose the politicians and property and financial speculators on us? We don’t want to see him in the driving seat of the bulldozer that destroys our community and removes the last shred of credibility from his most heartfelt belief!Sterling stuff. And it comes as the Prime Minister is being ridiculed by senior members of his own party for needing to show he is made of sterner stuff. Is he a man or a mouse, they ask?
Sally Taylor and Diana Belshaw, Chairs of the two residents associations, said:
We remain true to the principles of the Big Society, and we stand firm by our belief that local people should take greater charge of where they live so they can exercise more responsibility for their environment and assume better care of their neighbours. We occupy the ground; these are our homes; and we shall restore ownership to the local community. Politicians and profiteers may come and go, but we the people shall never surrender.
The Government has over-ruled H&F before, most dramatically when it forced the shut down of propaganda rag H&F News, very much against the wishes of the local authority. And the Council knows it could happen again, with former Leader Stephen Greenhalgh so worried he was at one time reduced to scribbling personal pleas to Ministers that "he really needed [your] help on this one!"
So, what's it to be? The Big Society or Big Bucks?