I will be brief. The proposal for the Secretary of State to be able to set up riot claims bureaux is welcome and a sensible move forward.
First, after the 2011 riots one of the problems was that communities did not have a voice in decisions taken about compensation or about models of reinvestment in affected areas. For example, in Croydon the council set up an independent riots panel with the community, but three years later, when I held a review meeting with people who had participated in the panel and with businesses and agencies affected by the riots, I found that not one of its recommendations had been implemented in full. That was extremely disappointing for the community, who had been told that they would be listened to and that action would be taken, although, regrettably, subsequently it was not.
Secondly, the riots recovery fund allocated by the Greater London Authority, a sum in excess of £20 million, was handed to the council, but half the money was spent in an area that was not among the worst affected by the riots and the other half was simply left in the bank account for several years until the GLA asked for it back—reasonably, if the money was not going to be spent. The businesses and property owners in the affected areas again felt severely let down, because not only had they been promised additional support, but it had been made available and never used.
If riot claims bureaux are to be set up, are the Government minded to ensure community representation on them? The needs and wishes of the community should be fully represented in decisions taken in the aftermath of riots, if we are ever unfortunate enough to see a repeat of the disturbances that happened in 2011.
That is an important point. From my own constituents’ point of view, I understand the frustration when money is sitting in a bank account and not being used by the local authority. I cannot comment on why that happened, because I do not know, but I fully understand the frustration.
If we are asking local people to take part in and to be part of their community—if we believe in localism—it is critical that they are listened to. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman and I could meet after the Committee. I will look into the recommendations that were made—I was not in post at the time—and we can see the reasons why they were not implemented and whether those reasons were logical. The Secretary of State wants the power to do something with the local community—localism in action—which is exactly what he will do.