Letter: Big on Big Society

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REGARDING Lesley Riddoch’s article concerning too little power being devolved to communities (Perspective, 9 April), this is exactly what the government’s “Big Society”, which she does not mention, is all about.

I am partly responsible for enabling “Big Society” projects at a leading council in England, specifically charged with pioneering some of the ideas which Ms Riddoch espouses.

While the concept has been attacked repeatedly in the press by cynics, it is empowering communities up and down England by cutting red tape and allowing them to choose how their services are best delivered.

In my borough, we are devolving simple planning matters to parish councils, giving local councillors more say over licensing, allowing villages to harness hydro electric power and feed excess into the national grid, choosing the best days for bin collection and determining public transport routes which best suit them.

Other areas are helping communities to access super fast broadband and the government has made it easier to do so for them.

The key thing to understand, though, is that none of them is forced to do any of the above; if they prefer the traditional council provision then that is absolutely fine.

Big Society is about allowing and enabling, not forcing.

Perhaps it is time that many overcame their cynicism of this much ridiculed policy and saw how many are benefiting from it.

Chris Donnelly

Poplar High Street