Saturday, December 11, 2010

Community Right to Buy

Eric Pickles' long-awaited 'localism' bill is on its way. The Big Society is coming to a town hall near you!

One measure announced to day is the Community Right to Buy for vital community assets under threat, giving a window to allow a community bid to be put together.

Cambridge - and the rest of the country - has seen failing pub companies sell currently unprofitably pubs for housing, claiming that they are impossible to run profitably, just because they have failed to do so. New owners could in many case make a big difference but don't get an opportunity.

While Cambridge city is still well served for pubs, rural areas being much worse affected, it won't survive losses going on at the current rate. Recently we've had the Duke of Argyle and The Jubilee go and the Queen Edith and Portland Arms under threat. There are more.

It's not just pubs that could be saved by this new right - shops and community centres could be helped too. It's no panacea, planning changes are also needed - the Lib Dems in Cambridge must take responsibility for shaping our local planning rules badly - and communities will inevitably not always be able to get exactly what they want, but it is a welcome innovation.

By the end of this parliament could Eric Pickles shape up to be the best thing to have happened to local civic life in Britain since Joseph Chamberlain?