Sustainable Communities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 11th March 2010.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour, Stroud 4:23 pm, 11th March 2010

I agree, but the good thing is that it was not party political. For all sorts of reasons, the LGA's dominant influence at present is much more in tune with the thinking of the hon. Gentleman's party than with mine. However, as I have said, I have some sympathy for the LGA. I think that it would claim to have been overwhelmed with interest. All of us who sponsored the Bill thought it wonderful that there was so much interest out there, but mistakes were bound to be made-especially during the first year-and, more particularly, there was bound to be that overwhelming amount of interest, as a result of which the LGA has not been debriefing people. I did ask, and the Bill's three sponsors have had meetings with the LGA, which took us through the process and asked us to be sympathetic. It could not pretend that it would get things right during the first year, because of the number of inquiries that it was receiving.

I should like a process of distillation to govern the way in which the bids reach the LGA and then central Government, who are currently having to wrestle with 190 bids, all of which have merit but not all of which will contribute to the process of change. My first point is that this is work in progress and that legislation can never substitute for people getting on with one another and making things happen. Even Government Ministers cannot do it all by themselves and have to rely on a great deal of effort elsewhere. The second point is that I do not want to put off those who, in subsequent years, might want to make a bid. Perhaps more effort needs to go into how a bid is formulated. One of the criticisms has been of the degree to which the bids built a coalition of support. The hon. Gentleman said that a great deal of work went into building the consensus, something that may not have been true in terms of some of the other cases at which I have looked.