City leads the way in the Big Society quest

Tom Anderson
Tom Anderson
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A group of “Big Society-thinking” residents want to set up Lancashire’s first neighbourhood council to overcome Government cuts.

People living in the Ingol and Tanterton areas of Preston have seen community services reduced as a result of cuts to the council’s neighbourhood management budget.

In response, letters are being sent to 3,500 homes in the area asking people to support the idea of a micro-local council.

It would work in a similar way to a parish council and would be an elected, unpaid body, which would speak up for the area on matters including care-taking services, planning matters, road improvements, children’s playgrounds and anti-social behaviour.

Residents would see a precept of around £12 per year added to their council tax bills.

Tom Anderson, who was chairman of neighbourhood management and is the current chairman of the Ingol and Tanterton PACT, said: “When neighbourhood management collapsed, it was suggested this could be an option to tackle bits that perhaps the council is not doing.

“It’s not about duplicating what Preston City Council are doing, it’s about enhancing that. It will be by the people, for the people, and everything will be by consultation.

“For 25p a week we can do more and be masters of our own destiny and get more done. It will be a group of community people doing community work. It will be non-political.

“We’ve always tried to work in partnership.

The Big Society was already here before David Cameron.”

The next stage will be for people in the area to sign a petition, asking Preston Council to carry out a review into whether a new council should be created. It must be signed by at least 10% of the residents to be considered.

A spokesman for Preston Council said: “If the council receives a valid petition it is our duty to carry out a community governance review. The review is based upon in-depth consultation in the specific area to take into account the views of local people before any recommendation are made.”

Around 210 new parish and town councils have been created in the past 10 years.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “As the tier of local government closest to their communities, parish, town or neighbourhood councils have a key role to play in our vision for localism and the Big Society, and the Localism Bill will enhance the role of these local councils to help shape their communities.”