BOARDS, BORES, AND THE EROSION OF LOCAL DEMOCRACY

1

by Olivia Hanks

I had the dubious privilege of being in the public gallery for the first meeting of the re-established Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) earlier this week. This board, made up of councillors from Norwich, South Norfolk and Broadland, is tasked with developing a strategic document, the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP), which will dictate where housing, roads and other infrastructure will be built in the area over the next 20 years.

The meeting, which was scheduled to last from 3.30 until 5pm, finished at 4.10 with very little discussion having taken place. You might have thought that, having been successfully taken to the High Court for failing to consider alternative options during the creation of the GNLP’s predecessor the Joint Core Strategy (JCS — I promise that’s the last obscure abbreviation), the board would be asking itself a lot more questions this time around. Although it was admittedly a more or less introductory meeting, agreeing the board’s terms of reference and the next steps, there was an opportunity for comments, which was taken up by only three members.

This matters because these dozen men — and shockingly, they are all men; all white; none under 50 or so — are shaping the future of Norwich and the surrounding area. It matters because sometimes it is hard to spot the moment for intervention until it has already passed.Continue Reading

PROFIT BEFORE PUPILS — SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER

1

by Cadi Cliff

Wednesday was Budget Day and George Osborne set out plans for a huge shake-up of the schools system. He announced that schools in England must become academies, independent of local authorities, by 2020. It’s farewell to your old council-run comprehensive and hello to corporate sponsored academies — and no, you don’t get a say in the matter.

Along with junior doctor contracts, the majority of the public have not supported the government’s argument on academies — so the Tories have gone and imposed them anyway. Democracy, right?Continue Reading