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									                        Local Government White Paper

Responding to the publication of the Local Government White Paper today, Tim
Brown Chair BME Community Forum said:

“On reflection the White Paper does not go far enough and appears to have
failed to embrace the notion of localism. This was to see a transfer of real power
from the Town Hall to the neighbourhood level. This would have given BME
Community members a greater say on how services are delivered in their area.

There are some positive moves that are warmly welcome. These include moves
to promote more diverse and representative councillors and the establishing of
an independent review to look at the incentives and barriers around becoming an
elected member of council. .

The proposed neighbourhood charters will provide information on the type and
standard of public services BME community members have a right to expect. At
present the absence of such basic accessible information is a contributory factor
as to why certain BME Community groups are not taking up their entitlements
and accessing public services.

The White Paper indicates that there will be a drive towards greater participation
of local people. This needs to be applauded. The BME Community Forum will
continue to encourage Doncaster Council to implement some of the emerging
themes of the Power Inquiry. The White Paper proposal to place a general
‘Community Engagement’ duty is an opportunity to explore increasing BME
Community participation in the design, delivery and review of public services,
whilst disbanding with the ‘colonial gatekeeper’ system.

At present, we wait for the publication of the Lyons Report and Comprehensive
Spending Review. This will enable the White Paper to be placed into its proper
context whilst providing new opportunities for Central Government to signify the
extent to which it is interested in devolving power.

Further reading is needed to understand the direction of travel in relation to City
Regions. The inferred enhance role for the likes of Sheffield is not really
supported by additional information on the type of infrastructure required and
how this will be funded.

The Local Government White Paper will be subjected to a more detail look. The
BME Community Forum will be at the forefront of providing opportunities for BME
Community members to discuss how this important document can contribute
towards the struggle of progressing Race Equality in Doncaster.

Tim Brown 3.11.2006

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