With a quarter of Bassetlaw Councillors being new to the Council an era of change is upon us. I hope that there is an entirely new mindset across the Council, which then sweeps its way into County Hall in Nottingham.
The old Bassetlaw council style was to be elected and then decide what good deeds to do for people - or to people. Now it needs to be about how to enable people to do things for themselves.
Who decides about local planning decisions? In the past it was Council Officers making the recommendations which were then determined by councillors. This power remains, but local communities and parish councils should be able to have a decisive say on the majority of Council planning decisions.
People power is what the new Bassetlaw Council needs to be all about. For too long the Council style has been about telling people what cannot be done rather than suggesting how it can be done and this change of culture will liberate council staff who receive the brunt of the public’s anger at bureaucracy and lack of clarity.
If a property is derelict then compulsory purchase it, do it up, sell it on and prosecute the owner. If a neighbour from hell bullies the community then kick them out.
Give priority in new housing to tenants who have paid their rent and looked after their property for years. Give the children of good tenants priority and include their years as good children of good tenants as qualifying years for tenancies.
Ensure that returning Bassetlaw soldiers are at the front of the queue, not the back of it. And take assets such as community centres and football fields and give established community groups the opportunity to run them.
I want to hear of young people turning up at the council meetings and being welcomed in and about everybody buzzing about how things can be done, not moaning about how things can’t be done.
A wind of change is blowing through the Bassetlaw Council and staff should warmly embrace it. Tough decisions will be needed on budgets, so take them quickly and fairly, but let the public see a Council that wakes up every morning and asks itself what it can do to empower its citizens and how it can makes things happen.
I’m pleased to see that Notts County Council have responded to people power and decided not to switch the street lights off in Worksop due to the recent consultation when lots of local residents said “No”. This is a good example of local democracy in action.