Sunday, 27 March 2011

Localism and equalities: dark age ahead Over recent months I've been party to a few conversations about threats to the equalities and rights agenda posed by public service cuts and the coalition government's apparent enthusiasm for throwing out safeguards. An example came up just the other day, with Children's Minister Tim Loughton quoted as saying that 'it is a "nonsense" that some carers have to get permission for everyday activities such as haircuts or sleepovers'. Yes but no. In many circumstances it's highly desirable that the parents of a child in care are encouraged to retain responsibility for precisely these kinds of decisions. As a foster carer there are definitely cases in which that is what I would want to happen, in the interests of the child, however awkward it may seem. Only bureaucrats benefit from excessive regulation, but when you start looking at why some safeguards are in place there are usually minority interests at stake. It's depressing to have a minister of government showing such a nuance-free disregard for the rights and needs of parents. I got onto this because I've been reflecting on the latest paper from the International Longevity Centre, on localism and neighbourhoods. Authors Dylan Kneale and David Sinclair argue that 'The Localism Bill should include greater safeguards to ensure that the rights of marginalised or minority populations to access a full range of amenities and services locally are protected.' They go on to call for 'a joined-up approach among bodies representing minority and marginalised groups to research and lobby for changes in the way spending cuts affect marginalised populations.' I didn't realise that it's well over four years since the ILC published their excellent paper on lifetime neighbourhoods - no less insightful or important now. The present document is an update to that thinking, in a less sympathetic political context where for example we no longer have CABE to defend and promote good quality design of neighbourhoods, and instead we have the bizarre and nasty government fad of bashing planners and the planning system. Dark age ahead, as Jane Jacobs foretold.
Neighbourly relations: events Rethinking Cities and PLAYLINK are hosting an event on 6 April on 'making neighbourhoods more neighbourly'. It's in two parts: a Walkshop from 3.00pm - 5.00pm Meeting at Denmark Hill Station and a Talk the Walk from 5.00pm - 7.30pm at the Clore Studio at the South London Gallery London SE5 8UH. The theme is 'making neighbourhoods more neighbourly': informal social neighbourliness, a sense of ease across generations, are qualities too infrequently associated with inner city or suburban neighbourhoods. Why should this be so? We believe that the local outdoors can and should allow for fun and the easy inter-play between generations. Why is this not happening as often as we think it should? If we can imagine – and wish for - a playable and walkable neighbourhood, what needs to be done to make this a reality? More. And here’s the blurb about a more academic event in St Andrews - 'The Social Dynamics of Neighbourhood’ Postgraduate and Early Career Symposium 23rd May 2011 Centre for Housing Research, University of St Andrews 'There is a belief that local neighbourhoods impact the lives of those that live within them; a relationship extensively explored in the literature on neighbourhood effects. However, there is increasing acknowledgment that the behaviour of residents also changes the character of their neighbourhoods and it is on this second proposition that this symposium takes its focus. The rhetoric of the UK government’s ‘Big Society’ aims to move the control of the neighbourhood increasingly into the hands of local communities and it is therefore ever more important to understand how social change can alter this local arena. Aspects of this social change have been explored throughout the social sciences for many years through discussions of social capital, social inclusion and community cohesion amongst other topics, but the re-examination of topics such as these at the local scale is vital in the current policy climate.' Confirmed plenary speaker: Ade Kearns, Professor of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow and Principal Investigator on the GoWell Programme Attendance is FREE and both lunch and tea/coffee will be provided Offers of workshop papers are invited (title plus an abstract of 200 words) and should be sent to: Alice Oldfield (aeo4 (at) Centre for Housing Research, University of St Andrews The Observatory, Buchanan Gardens, St Andrews, KY16 9LZ OFFERS OF PAPERS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED BY FRIDAY APRIL 22nd 2011

Recent Comments