Draft Local Government (Organisation and Standards) Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence - First Report


Memorandum by the Camden Town Community Forum

  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 year.

  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.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 11 August 1999