Birmingham Green Party coordinator Phil Simpson explains the question missing from Thursday’s referendum.
The mayoral referendum paper will have only two questions, but if localism is really important there should be a third: Do you want a directly elected Local Community Council?
Ask the people of Queens Park in Westminster. They’re seeking to set up their own Local (parish) Council under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. It will provide and maintain a variety of important and visible local services, including allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, bus shelters, car parks, open spaces, street cleaning and lighting, traffic calming measures, youth projects and many other things besides. It has the power to raise a precept from the local community and it is not run along party lines. These are statutory bodies and are the first tier of local government. They serve electorates from rural communities to small cities.
Well what’s good for London is good for Birmingham and soon the Localism Act, the Open Public Services White Paper and the National Planning Policy Framework will provide those powers. This is something all of us can have if we want it.
Ask the people who met in Birmingham on 22nd March. They’re the Local Government Association LGA (that’s all the Councils in England) and the National Association of Local Councils, NALC.
These are local councils that are in immediate touch with their electorate.
So, do you want a truly local council? That is the question that we should be asked on May 3rd – not one that will result in decreasing the little bit of democracy we still have!
Phil Simpson is the Coordinator of Birmingham Green Party, the ONLY party united against a Mayor for Birmingham