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Following the decision from Liverpool City Council to pull out from being a Big Society vanguard, Leicestershire County Council have put forward their proposals and ambitions to carry forward such a recognisable mantle. Here, Editor Scott Buckler chats to Leicestershire Council leader, David Parsons about what being a vanguard would mean to the people of Leicestershire

 

Cllr Parsons, Can you tell us why Leicestershire want to participate in the Big Society?


We think we have something to offer the programme and we have a 150 projects under our belt, but I think the programme has something to offer us as well. We want to share ideas with those Councils who are in the vanguard programme to assess and share good practice.


The Council have supported many projects which have proven successful, how important to the Council is volunteering and what role can this play within the big society?


I think there is a mistake by linking voluntary organisations to the Big Society, we have a great voluntary sector, but the Big Society is communities getting together saying what they want, telling politicians what they want and perhaps using voluntary and private sectors, but to link the two directly is a mistake.


What engagement do the Community have on public services delivered in Leicestershire?


We have twenty seven community forums, which have  a small amount of funds, which will be increased. We have put aside a million pounds for the Big Society. I have tasked officers within the county council with twelve projects which must be up and running by the end of the year. Some of the money will be used for legal advice, but most of it should be used to invest into projects.


What are the main priorities for the public living with Leicestershire?


The first thing to say is that is up to the people to decide, we have a number of issues. We have had one group wanting to save their pub, another example is a community garden which created produce such as flowers. We have also got projects on community transport, which is a huge issue in our outlying rural areas. We have got a concessionary travel scheme and a youth cafe which we want to open and invest in.


Why do you believe Liverpool pulled out of the Big Society?


We actually like the bottom up council approach, where the public challenge the council and give their thoughts. Maybe this approach does not work in some other areas such as Liverpool, I do not know the area and the Council well enough to comment.

 

For more information on what Leicestershire County Council are doing around the Big Society please visit;

http://www.leics.gov.uk/index/community.htm



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Written by Cllr David Parsons CBE   
Friday, 01 April 2011 10:02
Last Updated on Friday, 01 April 2011 10:11
 
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