Abstracts: October 27th, 2005

Speaking to the North West Improvement Network in Manchester David Miliband, Minister of Communities and Local Government, set out the Government’s view of ‘community’. Polls indicate that confidence about the future of communities is not high and many people have identified a growing sense of powerlessness in the face of rapid change. The belief that individuals can act with others to achieve societal change is not strong.’People say they want to live in a place where you can trust others, and feel a sense of pride and belonging. But these are things that consumers cannot buy and for which MPs cannot legislate. They exist in a space between the state and the individual – a space often called civic society, or community. It is a space defined by shared values, interests, activities, institutions and spaces. And the politics of community is about how we nurture those things we share. Success will be measured in tangible differences – less crime, better health, and better education. But there are also the intangible benefits – higher aspirations, clearer expectations of how to behave, trust in other citizens and institutions, and a sense of belonging and ownership, with citizens feeling pride in their neighbourhood, and a sense that local services – the police, schools, childcare, GPs – are run by us rather than them.’

‘Local government has a key role in building this new community infrastructure – not just in shared institutions but in shared activities, from volunteering to sports to learning, and shared spaces, from car boot sales to allotments, arts centres and street markets. A strategic local authority will ensure that institutions and activities do not just take place in the community but are of the community. A strategic local authority therefore seeks to shift the balance of power towards communities, through neighbourhood management and governance, through individual voice and choice, and through partnership with the voluntary sector. ‘

The speech is available at: http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_about/documents/page/odpm_about610102.hcsp