Friday, 28 October 2011

Government's Community First Programme somewhere between a sticking plaster and a joke

Government's Community First Programme somewhere between a sticking plaster and a joke. The £30 Million available over the next fours years is to fund community projects in some of the most deprived areas of the country.

Looking at the list of the 597, it is clear that Lancashire has been abandoned again. East Lancashire has faced the heaviest of al the Government cuts and has disproportionately seen unemployment rise faster than elsewhere in an area where wages are amongst the lowest in the country.

Lancashire - Hyndburn - Central £33,910
Lancashire - Lancaster - Heysham North £33,910
Lancashire - Hyndburn - Peel £33,910
Lancashire - Preston - Ribbleton £33,910
Lancashire - West Lancashire - Tanhouse £33,910

Whilst some metropolitan areas have numerous wards and are in receipt of £150,000 per ward, Lancashire has just 5 and they receive the minimum amount. It is amazing to think that Burnley gets nothing. It's a joke.

Even in Hyndburn, my own ward Peel is ahead of Church and Spring Hill surprisingly. That in itself seems inequitable and more over, a top down diktat rather than a local decision which the Government seems to want to trumpet so often.

Under the scheme people will be encouraged to give time, expertise and goods towards the projects they identify in their areas. The government will match these pound for pound, helping to stimulate local action towards meeting community needs.

Handing the fund to Lancashire seems ill thought out as Lancashire County Council have no connections with communities at ward level.In my own ward Peel, Lancashire County Council usually come to me or try to facilitate communication with residents groups through the Borough Council. They do not have the admin, local knowledge and moreover, the local forums established by the then then Labour controlled County Council have been scrapped by the incoming Conservatives.

So how will it be monitored, evaluated? How will County reach out and where will the office staff come from in the age of huge cutbacks?

What do they think £34,000 will achieve in Peel in 4 years and do they not understand that community capacity in most deprived wards is almost gone? People have been almost beaten back into their homes, disillusioned with any neighbourhood aspiration, tired and worn down from work in a globalised low wage economy.