The days when the Guildhall was the sole provider of services to the community and the sole arbiter of what is best for people are long gone. Beware those who would see those days return and beware those who would cruelly abolish the services all together and would see our communities weakened leaving everyone to fend for themselves.
Liberal Democrats believe in a modern, supportive and inter-dependent society where everyone is free to take the path best suited to them, but where we all share the responsibility to ensure everyone else can enjoy that same freedom. A safe and sustainable environment; a healthy and supportive society; a thriving and accessible economy; inquisitive and happy children; responsible, and caring parents; respected and cared-for elderly; a creative and vibrant community to feed our body, our mind and our soul.
This is no wishful pipedream; this is what the Kingston Borough Liberal Democrats are committed to. But as with all things we will achieve it better and quicker together. Twenty years ago, and in the teeth of Conservative opposition, we created the Neighbourhood structure that brought services closer to the people and gave everyone an opportunity to get involved and have a say in how things are run. For the past decade we have helped build and support a Borough-wide Strategic Partnership that has brought together all the key service providers: the Council and the police; the University and the health service; local businesses and the voluntary sector; and many more besides. We now want to see that mutually-supportive partnership expanded through the Kingston Community Charter.
The concept is tried and tested and much of the ‘infrastructure’ is already in place, all we require now is the commitment and determination to see it happen. This will be a further move away from an arrogantly Council that knows what’s best and does things to people; we seek to no longer be a paternalistic Council that creates dependency and does things for people; instead Liberal Democrats will create an enabling Council that does things with people and supports, facilitates and encourages them to do things for themselves, and with and for each other.
Initiatives like One Norbiton and the Malden Manor Project are a start but we believe we can improve and strengthen these examples and make them the norm in our communities and not the exception.
Based on the strategic partnership agreement: Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy, its Action Plan and Compact 2013 we will empower and facilitate the Borough’s four Neighbourhoods to build similar community partnerships that will:
- Create a register of local community, residential, business and voluntary groups that will be consulted as of right on matters of local interest and service provision
- Provide advice and support for those who wish to start new groups or extend the work of existing ones
- Create a register of community assets to raise awareness of exiting local facilities and ensure they are efficiently used and best maintained
- Provide space and opportunity for groups and Neighbourhood Partnerships to come together
- Encourage the sharing of services and facilities, and support their continued existences and development by facilitating co-production, co-provision and the community’s ‘right to bid’ for local service provision
- Invest in training, development and capacity building that will see community leaders come to the fore and help fulfil the aims of the Charter
- Communicate all this through one easily accessed and well publicised online community portal and support forum at Borough and Neighbourhood levels
- Collectively develop policy and service planning to support and further the aims of this Charter
- Consult on and allocate Neighbourhood resources according the principles of this Charter
- Create imaginative innovation; advance equality, access and participation; and build stronger, healthier, happier and sustainable communities
The Kingston we inherited is better today thanks to our collective efforts. Let us ensure that the Kingston we pass on to our children and to their children will be better still.