After years of apathy, the cry “Power to the People” can be heard in towns and villages throughout the country. The dramatic cuts in services proposed by county councils, unitary authorities and district councils have made local communities realise the impact local government has on their lives.
People no longer wish to be governed by large, faceless, inefficient bureaucracies. They want to become masters of their own destinies and have a greater say in the way they are governed.
A national campaign, Create a Council, has been launched to to make local government in England more democratic by creating local councils in industrial areas governed by principal authorities like the City of Stoke-on-Trent and the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Already there are over 9,000 democratically elected local councils in England providing community services for more than 15million people. A local council (which may be called a parish council, a village council, a town council, a community council or a neighbourhood council) is a first tier authority whose duties include:
- Representing local people
- Providing a wide range of public services
- Improving the quality of life.
Local communities in the Staffordshire Moorlands already have parish councils. Kidsgrove and Stone have town councils and campaigns have been launched in the Potteries to create town councils in Fenton and Penkhull.
Town councils in the Potteries would make Stoke-on-Trent more democratic and restore civic pride. Local councils have been created in Birmingham, Bradford, Milton Keynes and Leeds. These councils have empowered local people to take control of their lives and work together for the benefit of the community.
Only those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo need fear the cry “Power to the People”. A wind of change is blowing across the country bringing with it a more open and less politically orientated system of local government.
Since the riots last August, people in London have come together to rebuild their communities by creating local councils in the boroughs where they live.
Like all post-industrial cities, Stoke-on-Trent faces many social and economic problems. All over the country town councils are working in partnership with community groups to overcome similar problems. The Phoenix Trust believes that North Staffordshire needs local councils and during 2012 we will be posting a series of articles looking at the achievements of town councils in different parts of the country.