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

That is a hornet's nest. The bids were of every shape, size and dimension one could imagine. Some were quite narrowly focused-I hope my hon. Friend the Minister will help me out of the mess that I have created for myself-and would not have taken a lot of effort to introduce. Some were huge in their implications and would involve major expenditure changes on a local level, and even a national level, because of the implications. Having looked at the 190 bids, I was very partial to some myself. I might have shrugged my shoulders at some and said that people might like them but they would not be delivered in a month of Sundays. That includes those that were potentially in opposition to Government policy. That would cause some difficulties.

This is a learning process and we have not got it right yet. The LGA needs help, as do central Government, but there are some brilliant ideas out there. That was the whole point about the local works coalition bringing forward the idea. It said that it would allow a thousand flowers to bloom; it has, literally, allowed a thousand flowers to bloom. Many authorities that did not get involved in the first round are watching carefully. I urge them not to despair or to say that the Bill is another piece of useless Westminster pontificating that will make no difference to their lives.

The challenge is good and will make the LGA think again. It will make the Government and the sponsors think again, as they will be reading my remarks; they are not very good but they are defending the system that we put in place. The hon. Member for Windsor has done us a favour; he has referred to one of the bids that did not get through. I suspect a lot more will not get through, and central Government, through the Minister, must offer a defence. It will not be easy. That does not mean that what we are doing is wrong; it just has to be better and we must bring people in. I have tried to be an apologist for what we have done. We cannot pretend that we have got it right but the legislation is worthy and could allow for much better decision making at a local level.