Memorandum by the Camden Town Community
The Camden Town Community Forum is a growing
umbrella organisation, representing the interests of about 20
significant local groups covering the seven Camden Council wards,
which form the Camden Town area. The Forum has a written Constitution
and meets formally on average seven times per year. The Forum's
Management Committee meets an additional six to eight times per
We are concerned that the proposals in the White
Paper do not best serve the public interest. They will diminish
the rights of ratepayers to hear, and to be heard, as part of
the local decision making process.
Little publicity has been given to the White
Paper or its proposals. The only forms of public consultations
has been limited and selective. Yet the paper is proposing major,
fundamental changes to the way the country functions. It is indicative
of the lack of publicity that until very recently, we were unaware
of the existence of this Select Committee and ignorant of how
and when to make our views known.
Our members were party to some consultation
carried out by Camden Council, but the process is generally thought
to have been flawed. Many voters and ratepayers are apparently
still unaware of the nature of the changes proposed. Many are
also dismayed by the "spin" being given to the results
of the consultation.
In the Camden Council consultation, nearly 50
per cent of the respondents took the trouble to write-in an additional
option, that of improving the existing system.
It is acknowledged that the present system of
local government has many imperfections. Nevertheless, it has
grown from a history of protest, debate and democratic reform.
It should be built on and improved. To centralise local decision
making would be to regress in the principles of democracy.
We support the spirit of the St Pancras Declaration,
which largely reflects what we know to be the widely held views
of voters and ratepayers.
The proposal to reform local government is a
national issue. No mandate was given in the general election to
make the changes being proposed in the White Paper. The subject
should be honestly opened-up to wide and lengthy national debate.
Central government decisions must be made on the basis of what
the voters have to say.