This is fun. According to the LGiU,
‘The good folks at Eland House have a problem on their hands. The official line is that the Localism Bill has been delayed by “parliamentary congestion”. There’s also speculation, however, that the Bill is being delayed because some of its content is creating a headache for the civil servants. One of the most interesting sticking points is providing a legal definition of what a community is.’
While I was still rolling around on the floor helpless with laughter, visualising the desperate policing of various kinds of illegal communities ('excuse me sir, I have reason to believe you have nothing in common with the people at no.38'), my old mate Gabriel Chanan who has worked alongside these hapless officials and has perhaps more sympathy with their plight, saw a glimmer of an opportunity and fired-off the following snippet of wisdom to The Times:
Sir, Civil servants preparing the Localism Bill for the government are said to be having difficulty defining what a community is so that it can be given legal powers. This is promising. A community cannot be given legal powers because it is not an entity. It is a description of a certain (or more often uncertain) state of relationships amongst the population of a locality or some other group with interests in common. The only population-based entity to which you can give legal powers in a locality is a community organisation of one sort or another. This ought to throw the spotlight onto the question of the relationship between such an organisaton and the rest of the local population. So when the government, in Big Society mode, says it will enable ‘communities’ to take over a public service, the question should immediately arise of what does that community organisation need to do to show that it is acting in the interests of the whole local population, and what responsibility necessarily remains with the relevant public authority to ensure this. Communities as a whole do not and cannot take over public services. Community organisations can collaborate with public authorities to deliver the services better.
Gabriel Chanan, www.pacesempowerment.co.uk
Who knows if they'll publish it, but I have.