Wednesday, 10 October 2012

My Don Quixote moment

On 22 October I will be giving Oral evidence to the Parliamentary Community & Local Government Committee at their invitation. You can find my evidence on the CLG Committee website. My submission is the second entry on a list containing just 53 submissions. Such a small number is somewhat disappointing, given all the talk there has been (and still is) about localism / community empowerment / neighbourhood democracy / 'Big Society' or call it what you will. I had, naively, thought that my submission would be just one of hundreds.

I feel this is my 'Don Quixote moment' and I wonder if I will ever learn to stop tilting at windmills? Sorting through an old archive box last week I came across some back issues of The Journal, which was published by Birmingham Trades Council and to which I was a regular contributor in the 1970s, writing mainly about the activities of the City Council. The then Leader of the Council, Stan Yapp, was asked by The Journal to contribute. Instead he got me to do it, because he thought I was 'independent enough to have some credibility'.

In 1972 I was Secretary of the Birmingham Borough Labour Party and met Dick Knowles, who was then the city's full-time Labour Party Agent. He subsequently became a city councillor and Leader of the Labour Group and the City Council. We got on well and I have always acknowledged his part in how I became a passionate believer in urban parish councils and neighbourhood democracy. And last week I found the October 1972 issue of The Journal, carrying a front page article by Dick Knowles entitled 'Local Government 74'.

28 October 2012. See next blog.



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