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Sustainable Communities Act: Hotline to government for change
Many people have great ideas about how they could make their neighbourhood a better place to live.
Some local authorities want to deliver public services in new ways, and volunteers, community groups and social enterprises would like to play a bigger role in local life. Sometimes barriers get in the way. Red tape, rules and regulations stop people putting good ideas into action.
The Sustainable Communities Act 2007 gives councils and communities the opportunity to ask national Government to devolve more power to local councils and remove legislative barriers so they can improve the well-being and sustainability of local areas.
In October 2008 the council 'opted in' to the Act. This means local organisations and residents in Brighton & Hove had the opportunity to come up with proposals to improve the areas where they live.
As a result the council is pleased to report that it received 23 proposals. Following feedback and negotiation with the Local Panel, (in July 2009) the Administration recommended that nine of these proposals be submitted to the Local Government Association (LGA).
Eight of the nine Brighton & Hove proposals submitted were short-listed by the LGA for negotation with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
In January 2011 the Minister decided that two of our eight proposals would be pursued
To increase financial incentives and assistance to local homeowners, including landlords, to install micro-renewable energy sources in their local properties.
The Minister's response is: The Government supports the principle of extending financial incentives for local renewable energy generation. We are replacing the Low Carbon Buildings Programme with new incentives schemes. Feed-in tariffs were introduced in April 2010 to support small scale renewable electricity generation. In order to increase awareness and understanding of the opportunities that all renewable and low carbon energy offers, and to help organisations access support available under feed-in tariffs and other mechanisms, the Government is developing an online portal for local authorities and communities, Community Energy Online. This will provide a comprehensive guide to designing and delivering low carbon community-scale energy infrastructure.
Find out more about Community Energy Online by visiting the Department of Energy & Climate Change website http://ceo.decc.gov.uk/
To give councils the authority to offer discretionary business rate relief to encourage and sustain small and medium local businesses.
The Minister's response is: Through the Localism Bill the Government will give councils the power to set local discounts on business rates, provided that they are funded locally. This will give councils the ability to respond to local circumstances such as supporting the local pub or Post Office if they are struggling or encouraging new start-up enterprises.
Councillor Mary Mears (Council Leader at the time of the Minister's response in December 2010) said: "I'm delighted that the hard work of local Brighton & Hove residents and community groups, who took part in the Sustainable Communities Act process, has been rewarded."
"We 'opted-in' to the Act precisely because we wanted to give people the opportunity to genuinely influence central Government thinking and these decisions show that they are listening."
"This really is localism in action. We look forward to using the Act still more in the future to gain further freedoms and flexibilities for local communities and local government."
Have you got an idea? Here's what to do next
If you have an idea on how to improve your community but red tape is holding you back, you can now contact Government directly through their barrier busting website http://barrierbusting.communities.gov.uk. This means that rather than setting a deadline for ideas to be returned to Government, communities can now submit their ideas online at anytime.
- Outcome for all LGA short-listed proposals (from all areas, including Brighton & Hove) [PDF 537KB]
- Outcome for all LGA short-listed proposals (from all areas, including Brighton & Hove) [Department for Communities and Local Government's webpage summary]
- Report to the council's Sustainability Cabinet Committee (9 February 2011) on the Minister's response to all eight of Brighton & Hove's LGA short-listed proposals [PDF 81kb]
- Brighton & Hove proposals submitted to the LGA under round one of the Sustainable Communities Act
- Sustainable Communities Act Local Panel
- Report to the council's Sustainability Cabinet Committee (23 July 2010) on the local process for Round One [PDF 90kb]
If you wish to talk to someone about the Sustainable Communities Act please contact the council on (01273) 296805 or email email@example.com