New inquiry - are "community rights" actually working?

The right to very little at all: House of Commons select committee launches an inquiry into the new ‘community rights’.

Laird Ryan
31 October 2014

The Localism Act 2011 offers communities a set of new ‘rights’.  They may now challenge councils in England to run public services, bid for ‘assets of community value’, build local facilities and make statutory neighbourhood plans.  As an added sweetener, the government has earmarked £52m to help communities fund these ventures.  But are community rights all they’re made out to be?  Not on the basis of evidence that shows them to be fraught with red tape, and a postcode lottery that invariably favours well-heeled areas.  Plus, there’s the minor matter that the Coalition’s infrastructure laws strip communities of their right to challenge fracking, nuclear proliferation and high speed rail.

The cross-party Communities and Local Government Select Committee has launched an inquiry into these so-called rights.  The full set of submissions received is on the Parliament website here.

Laird Ryan’s submission on behalf of the National Coalition for Independent Action gives a detailed critique of why community rights fail to deliver.  It sets out alternatives for a system that’s far more equitable and effective.  It’s available here.

Laird will be giving oral evidence to the Select Committee on 2 December.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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