My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government (Hazel Blears) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I would like to inform Parliament that we have issued today an invitation to local authorities to make proposals which they consider would encourage the improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-being of local areas. The invitation falls under Section 2(1) of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007. A copy of the invitation has been deposited in the Library of the House.
Regulations relating to the Act were made on 9 October 2008 and laid before Parliament on 13 October 2008. They come into force on 3 November 2008. The regulations include further details about the procedure to be followed in relation to the submission of proposals under the Act. In particular, they require a local authority, before making any proposal, to establish or recognise a panel of representatives, consult it about the proposal, and to have regard to any guidance issued. The SI No. is 2008/2694.
Statutory guidance relating to the Act was published on 9 July 2008, as an annex to statutory guidance on the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (Creating Strong, Safe and Prosperous Communities: Statutory Guidance).
The text of the formal invitation letter is as follows:
Sustainable Communities Act 2007: First Invitation To Local Authorities To Submit Proposals
The Sustainable Communities Act 2007 creates a useful opportunity for local authorities to propose new ways to improve local neighbourhoods for their residents, visitors and businesses. I am formally inviting local authorities under Section 2(1) of the Sustainable Communities Act to submit their proposals.
This initiative is part of the drive to empower citizens and communities; others are highlighted in the White Paper Communities in Control: real people, real power which was published in July this year.
The principal aim of the Act is to promote the sustainability of local communities by encouraging the improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-being of the authority’s area, including participation in civic and political activity.
It begins from the principle that local people know best what needs to be done to promote the success of their area, but that sometimes they need central government to act to enable them to do so. It provides a channel for local people to ask central government, via their local authority, to take such action and for central government to work in co-operation with the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents the interests of local authorities, in making it happen.
I hope this invitation leads to a productive dialogue between central and local government and local communities, and that this will lead to innovative suggestions on how to improve the sustainability of local communities and what central government can do to help.
Local authorities have until 31 July 2009 to put forward proposals. All proposals should be sent to the LGA which has been appointed as the “selector” under the terms of the Act. I enclose a letter from the director for empowerment at CLG, Stuart Hoggan, which gives further details about the process for submitting and progressing proposals.
I look forward to working closely with the LGA to identify those proposals on which government can best assist local authorities and local communities in promoting the sustainability of local areas in ways which benefit local people in tangible ways.
A copy of the letter from the director for empowerment at CLG has been deposited in the Library of the House.