Examination of Witnesses

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 23rd June 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Tony Burton:

If burnout is an issue in town and county councils—which I can well acknowledge—imagine what it is like when you are dealing with an entirely volunteer network. We do not have a National Association of Local Councils; we do not have a parish clerk or a town clerk; we do not have an infrastructure organisation; we do not have an email address; we do not have an office; and we do not have a place to meet. When a neighbourhood forum is set up, it is set up from nothing, and it requires volunteers like us to put forward networks for London. London is unique in having a network that provides a bit of mutual support.

There are two points I would emphasise to make the life of being a civic volunteer something that you really want to do, and where you don’t burn out. One is to remove as many of the obstacles we spend much of our time fighting against as possible. We are not naive—of course life is going to be difficult—but there are pointless, and sometimes gratuitous, obstructions being put in the way of volunteers trying to do the right thing in their area. We have a range of evidence for that in relation to neighbourhood planning in London or from the research we have done. We do not have the time to go into it here, but it is available to the Committee if it wishes to look at it. The second is to put booster rockets under the support programme, which we have touched on already as being the single most important intervention—far more important than the Bill—so that it can be effectively delivered, ensuring that neighbourhood planning is one of the tools available to communities to take back more influence over planning.