I just came across the news that Cardiff Council is to hold lots of public meetings between now and the end of the process of creating the new Local Development Plan, a hugely important policy document that guides the future development of the city for years to come.
Peter Cox from the Civic Society rightly points out that this does not automatically mean the Council will listen. In fact Cardiff has a terrible history of deciding exactly what will happen before engaging in tokenistic 'consultation' where the Council tries to convince everyone else that their plans are the right thing to do.
I just got back from Oxford where some friends who also happen to be anti-cuts campaigners attended a 'consultation' meeting run by Tory controlled Oxfordshire county Council about local service cuts. One asked whether, as it was a public meeting, they would be able to vote to save the local economy. I don't yet know what the answer was, but I'm sure the Council's attempt at tokenistic consultation may have backfired somewhat!
Everyone who wants to influence the LDP should have the means to do so, which begins with a conversation about where we want the city to go in the next few decades, not a lecture from one side. Councils need to empower people, not to take power away from them.
And this is exactly what Norwich Greens will be doing if they take over their Council tomorrow, the first time Greens will have been in this position in the UK. They are talking about communities themselves making decisions about where funding goes, asking people what services should be most protected from cuts, and taking outsourced local services back in house so they can be democratically accountable one again.
Check them out at http://www.norwichgreenparty.org.uk
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