Thursday, 1 April 2010

Would David Cameron's "Neighbourhood Army" build Community Power or stifle it?

Conservative leader David Cameron has announced his intention to set up a "Neighbourhood Army" of 5,000 government trainees whose job would be to set up community groups. The full story can be read on the BBC Politics site here.

Obviously any initiative that would have the effect of helping to empower our communities is to be encouraged, and I guess it would probably be too vain for me to even consider the possibility that he may have picked up the idea from one of his visits to the London Borough of Hounslow, where he will have heard that his party has shared power for the past four years with the Community Group, which was flying the flag for localism before either of the major parties had even coined the word.

But would the recruitment of 5,000 government-trained community organisers who would then be sent into our cities, towns and villages to engender some form of Community Empowerment not be a contradiction in terms?

In short, can Community Power be imposed by government initiative, or must it necessarily be organic and rise unassisted out of the efforts of the people themselves?

Would the organisers withdraw once local people had been trained, and would there be strings attached to the continued support of the "experts" as there always is under Labour?

An interesting debate to be had.

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