What chance for the Big Society

Two issues I’m dealing with in the ward at present, offer a demonstration of the challenges involved in making David Cameron’s Big Society work on a practical level.

The first one is a fairly minor matter in the great scheme of things, but to the person affected it is a very real problem and one that is leading to some distress for the lady concerned. Her problem is with a neighbour who is neglecting his garden to the point that it is spoiling hers. Having spent good money getting her front garden made low maintenance, she now finds it blighted by wind blown weeds from the neglected garden next door.

Despite the best efforts of council officers to persuade the gentleman to do the right thing, he continues to do the bare minimum. This means that he doesn’t really fix the problem, but his neglect isn’t bad enough to justify any sort of legal action.

The second case is more serious, because of the activities of another bad neighbour. In this case, as well as having an impact on their neighbours, these people are allegedly carrying out certain illegal activities. Numerous comings and goings, often for less than 5 minutes at a time, suggest that these people are not coming around for a cup of tea. A large number of different vehicles, often taking up other residents’ parking spaces, also suggests that these are far from your normal neighbours. Some residents also report seeing scrap metal, farm equipment and even red diesel being handled at various times. It seems that our local police are ‘aware’ of these people, but have been unable to catch them in the act.

If we are struggling to deal with people who fail to be good neighbours and who spoil the quality of life of those around them, with our current but reducing resources, will the Big Society offer better or worse solutions?

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