The ‘big society’ is launched – local communities get ‘power’ and money – communities with ‘oomph’ – what would George Orwell think?
David Cameron launches his Big Society
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
18 Jul 2010
Local communities will get the power and money to run bus services, set up broadband internet networks and take over neighbourhood recycling schemes under a mass transfer of power from the state to the people, David Cameron will announce today.
In his first major speech on the theme of the “Big Society” since winning the election, the Prime Minister will announce the “biggest redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street”.
Mr Cameron – who is keen to present his administration as offering optimistics new policies that are not just about cuts – will say that the “liberation” of volunteers and activists to help their own communities is the vision which drives his premiership.
As part of his drive to roll back the reach of the public sector, the Prime Minister will attack the previous Labour government for turning state employees into “disillusioned, weary puppets” and communities into “dull, soulless clones”.
He will announce that four areas in diverse parts of the country have been chosen to form a “vanguard” in realising his dream of “people power” in which individuals rather than the state come together voluntarily to solve their problems.
The four – the greater London borough of Sutton and Cheam, the leafy Berkshire council of Windsor and Maidenhead, rural Eden Valley in Penrith, Cumbria, and the metropolitan city of Liverpool – were chosen after they petitioned Downing Street to start their own projects.
They will be the first to be invited to submit applications to the Big Society Bank, a fund which will allocate the proceeds of dormant bank accounts worth hundreds of millions of pounds to help set up volunteer schemes to improve communities.
In a speech in Liverpool – where local people have asked to act as volunteers at a museum in order to extend its opening hours – Mr Cameron will set out how his grand vision of a Big Society would create communities with “oomph”.
Stressing how much concept means to him on a personal level, he will say: “There are the things you do because it’s your duty … But there are the things you do because it’s your passion,” he will say.