Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Mike Dixon (GRI 03)

  I write as Chair of Shilbottle Village Forum, Priest in Charge of the Local Church, and a Board Member of ENERGI (East Northumberland Regeneration Initiative).

  The Village Forum has just had a NOF Healthy Living Bid rejected.

  The Forum's agenda originated from a "Planning for Real" exercise and many Community Consultations.

  The needs of the community were identified.

  The form was filled in and a business plan was submitted.

  This process has highlighted a tension in the regenerative process; namely the demand by Government for community led/based schemes but alongside this is a demand for well developed plans and funding profiles. Community led projects are produced by people (a limited number) who have other jobs, limited funds and limited time. The assessment panels seem to be unaware of the real nature of life on the ground, and expect limitless time, money and expertise.

  To complete the bid the Forum managed to raise £2,000 which was used for a consultant and architect, but this was a massive sum to be raised by coffee mornings and charitable events; also it is not easy to ask people to donate hard-earned cash for speculative plans.

  The successful bidders would seem to be organisations (such as South Tyneside Health Authority) which have easy access to funding and full time grant seekers.

  Shilbottle is an ex-pit village with all the problems of such a history—health and well-being being primary concerns for this community. Health is one area where it is difficult to have a meaningful dialogue with the providers (Doctors) who seem to be a law unto themselves, and will provide health and well-being according to when and where they think fit, not where the need is. This community is aggrieved about the lack of Primary Health Care in the Village as compared to smaller wealthier communities in the neighbourhood. This reflects the other major problem: some communities seem to have easier access to levers of change and regeneration (usually because they have people well versed in accessing such power points); there needs to be a bias of help and support to those communities which can be identified as somehow lagging behind others in terms of social provision.

Mike Dixon

Chair of Shilbottle Village Forum

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 28 October 2002