I’ll keep this one short (thank f***, they all chorus) because I’ve got to go out in half an hour to talk to some people about training TV researchers. But I wanted to take the opportunity to get the message out about our campaign to save our local playcentre.
Tonight, a group of parents will be making a deputation to Camden Council asking them to keep Camden Square Playcentre open. We’ve been campaigning for months and have got 571 signatures on our paper petition – largely gleaned by hanging around outside Kentish Town Co-op on Saturday mornings.
We also have an online petition and I want to try and get a few more signatures on this before close of play today. If you read this, please sign and circulate to all your mates (sign and circulate it to anyone really).
Here’s the linky thing:
A deputation is an interesting thing. A group of people can go to a council meeting and speak out about things they don’t like. As long as you fill the form in properly you will be taken seriously and given a hearing. It also helps if you get the support of your local councillors, who can show you the ropes and advise you on what to say. It is their job to represent you – after all if they don’t do the job properly you can vote them out at the next election. It’s called democracy; not very fashionable these days, but it still exists – despite the fact that so-called “local government” minister Eric Pickles has done his best to destroy local councils by slashing their budgets.
Councils rely on central government for most of their income – revenue from council tax and much hated charges like parking permits is a drop in the ocean by comparison. They are also fined if they put up council tax by more than a fraction, a legacy of Thatcher’s run-ins with local government – in particular the GLC and Liverpool City Council – in the 80s. Even if residents want the services and are happy to pay more, a council will get in big trouble if it raises council tax above the level allowed.
I went from knowing almost nothing about local government to knowing a little bit when I was involved in a similar deputation about a year ago. A group of parents – including myself – made a deputation about a local nursery which was being closed down. We got it re-opened because we lobbied the council and they found a way to keep it open by involving the voluntary sector. Everyone wins. That’s how Parliament should work, but I rather fear that the only lobbyists MPs are listening to are those operating on behalf of big business, like Dr Liam Fox’s “friend” Adam Werrity.
What a gruesome twosome. Enough already. Must dash now but wish us all luck for tonight – it will be broadcast on the Camden Council website if you’re interested. Might post it later if I have time.