Community Panels to bolster local democracy

At this week’s public meeting of the Executive, members approved a strategy for implementing Sustainable Community Act (SCA) powers in the Borough.

Kingston is at the forefront of embracing the SCA’s powers for local people. We have approved the timetable for a very broad consultation arrangement.

We are excited about the potential of Community Panels - we just hope that Government means what it said, and takes seriously the ideas and concerns of Kingston residents.

The Sustainable Communities Act 2007 grants local authorities the power to set up ‘Community Panels’ of local people, to discuss and suggest changes to central government legislation, which would benefit ‘sustainability’ or ‘well being’ in the local area.

So far we’ve far invited active environmental and voluntary groups as well as the Neighbourhood Committees - to discuss ideas and potential projects for a public workshop in June.

We hope that following this initial workshop, Kingston residents will want to take part in regular public discussions and suggest ideas through a dedicated web site. This Council is committed to supporting grass-roots dialogue – and we would be delighted if SCA panels could improve life in the Borough.

At a public meeting on 21st April, Liberal Democrat Cllr Bob Steed, the Executive member for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change, commented: “I am a little concerned that the law requires the LGA to filter all suggestions from Community Panels before they go to central Government – but I acknowledge that this Act is a massive step forward for local democracy. 

I am particularly excited about the potential for Kingston residents to come up with innovative ideas to improve the environmental sustainability of the Borough.”

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