Promoting the Big Society in Barnet
Interesting piece by Cllr Lynne Hillian, the Conservative leader of Barnet Council in the Local Government Chornicle. It defines the Big Society as "asking people for their time, rather than their money." It describes the proposals for the Barnet Pledgebank - "If a resident pledges to clear their street of snow and nine other
residents sign up to do so, we could, for instance, provide the grit for them to spread."
Cllr Hillian says:
Too often community activity can be stymied by the state. Adults are wary of getting involved in activity around children because of a fear of liability. Many have concerns about a long and tedious process of background checks, like CRBs. We are proposing that a new model of engagement may well see the council provide the support the community needs to support activities.
We are well placed to help with CRB checks and provide insurance and equipment for community groups. They are often well placed to support young people at a local level. Innovations like Barnet Pledgebank will not make a big society overnight - but they do point to a local government that does things with residents, rather than “for “or “to” them.
Increasingly local government will be a deal: “ We will provide a half a ton of grit if you agree to spread it”. There is a real engagement challenge here - often these groups will not be the usual suspects. They will be “flash communities” of short duration, forming to complete an activity - such as clearing snow or tackling local environmental damage.