A recent independent inquiry – Civil Society Futures – published its report in the middle of November, called “The Story of Our Times: shifting power, bridging divides, transforming society,” which said that civil society must up its game, or risk complete irrelevance.
I usually abhor acronyms, but it came up with one – PACT – to describe the process of change it says needs to occur:
* Power: argues power needs to be shifted so that everyone is involved in decision-making;
* Accountability: organisation must be more accountable to communities they serve;
* Connection: civil society must build broader and deeper connection within and between communities;
* Trust: organisations need to put effort into building and earning trust and ensure they are behaving in line with their values.
It’s for reasons very similar to this that I’ve joined other residents where I live since July to be part of the process of building the new neighbourhood plan for the town – Yateley, Darby Green and Frogmore, in the district of Hart, which is in the North-East corner of Hampshire.
I’m co-leading the subject group (members pictured above) which is looking at issues to do with ‘Getting Around‘ – that’s anything to do with being a pedestrian, with cycling, with using public and community transport, and of course, driving in its many and varied forms.
You can find the main website for our local neighbourhood plan here.
Neighbourhood planning will never be the answer to all the issues anyone has in their local area, but it can be a useful start – and what we’ve found as a group of residents is that, as an excuse for starting to have those conversations about issues, and engaging with the processes in the local community, some of those dynamics to do with power, accountability, connection and trust start to move. And who knows – we might finally get that bus to Fleet we’ve waited so long for!