Please note that the manifesto below is work in progress, I must congratulate the members of TCG that participated in the task of creating such a document, this will lay the foundations for us all here in the Torridge district, personally, I find this document  easy to follow and also inspiring so please do take a moment to read through its content and know that if there's something within its content you would like to expand on, or something you would like to see added/edited then please let us know.

Carl Hawkins

Torridge Common Ground – Manifesto

Torridge Common Ground (TCG) is a non-party-political community platform that puts the shared values and practical vision of communities at the heart of local governance, empowering them to transform their local economies and wellbeing for the benefit of all.

It aims to create a new democratic vision – based on hope, sharing, celebrating and connecting with our community and its environment. By coming together, affirming our Common Ground and rediscovering our power to act, we can awaken to the possibility of transforming our everyday lives for the better and, in doing so, create resilient and flourishing communities across Torridge.

This manifesto outlines how this vision can be achieved, with the key principles which TCG councillors will uphold and the policies to be progressed if TCG has a majority influence on local councils from May 2019.

If this vision resonates with you do contact TCG and play your part in the process of returning power and control back to our local communities.

The Principles

How Torridge Common Ground will work together with you:

  1. Working for the common good of all

- Develop more open, inclusive and caring procedures.

- Celebrate and build on the invaluable community work already being done.

- Adopt can-do innovative approaches, harnessing the creative imagination of the community to build resilience in public, private and voluntary sectors at this time of rapid change.

- Demonstrate the joy of sharing and participating in community projects. These are true bulwarks against loneliness, fear and distrust.

- Have the courage to act in accordance with what is right even if it does not bring immediate short-term gain.

  1. Reframing the decision-making process

- Create greater public participation, drawing on the direct experience and collective wisdom of local people through People’s Assemblies and open-space events.

- Have the humility to admit when we don’t know the answer and defer decisions until a full understanding of any situation is gained.

- Make decisions on behalf of the community that are sourced by local people, and not imposed by outside interests.

- Test decisions against the impact on the wellbeing of present and future generations.

- Be bold enough to challenge existing conventions and preconceptions when they no longer serve the greater good.

- Seek to apply the spirit of the law (which refers to a broader reading of the law) in all decision-making in preference to the letter of the law (which is literal in its approach).

  1. Promoting diversity and gender/age balance

- Promote values and practices such as consensus-seeking and co-operation, so often undervalued in political life.

- Empower women and the younger generation to participate in democratic processes, establishing a gender/age balance as much as possible in all roles.

- Elevate the vital role of creativity and imagination in awakening and giving birth to fresh possibilities.

- Encourage elders to share their valuable knowledge and experience, acknowledging the vital contribution they have to make.

  1. Reviewing the role of councils

- Shed light on the performance and workings of local councils through transparent reporting as an antidote to self-interest and partisan attitudes.

- Enhance the role of councils from being purely service providers to that of empowering local communities.

- Resist abuses of power and promote radical democracy at all levels, asking only that our members respect our core values and principles.

- Address the outsourcing of skills and services by the council to anonymous corporations and explore more equitable options.

  1. Reaffirming sustainable development

- Reaffirm that truly sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the wellbeing of future generations.

- Acknowledge that we all have a responsibility to be wise stewards of the earth’s resources and leave a worthy inheritance to future generations.

- Review councils’ use of pesticides in public areas, and seek to ensure that wildlife corridors are incorporated in any new development along with environmental measures.

Torridge Common Ground will work with other local councillors who act in alignment with these principles.

The Policies

What we plan to do together

  1. Champion community wealth-building :

A key approach to stemming economic ‘leakages’ will be by encouraging enterprises to establish local roots (providing income to local people) and to invest in the area from profits made in the area rather than transferring to headquarters in other parts of the country or abroad.

  • Making the most of local resources

    - Resist the selling-off of local assets.

- Aim to maximise the benefit to the local economy from money spent in the community, supporting local suppliers and entrepreneurs.

- Encourage residents to spend and save locally, using Credit Unions when established.

- Encourage local businesses to increase investment in the area, with local

shareholders and possibly creating co-operatives.

  • Creating community hubs

- Provide platforms to champion the rich diversity of the area, facilitating new ventures and projects. These spaces could host re-skilling workshops, village/town partner stalls, performances by artists, musicians and storytellers, events run by local groups, organisations and businesses, and showcase new enterprises. A key feature would be TCG councillors hosting People’s Assemblies. A commitment would be to open up spaces for use as community hubs across Torridge.

  • Re-connecting with our food and the soil

- Encourage and support local food producers, and help initiate environmentally-friendly methods such as micro-farming, permaculture, forest gardens, regenerative agriculture, and the best of organic practices.

- Open up more green spaces and allotment provision.

(iv)    Re-skilling and sharing for resilience

-  Empower people to develop resilience and resourcefulness. Examples could include growing fruit and vegetables in small spaces, home cooking of nutritious, low-cost meals, repairing clothes, food preserving, energy saving and D-I-Y skills.

(iv)    Engaging the wider community through digital democracy

-  Use digital platforms to increase participation, inviting ideas and enabling decisions to be better informed by local feedback, including budget preparation.

  1. Involve youth

– Listen to young people’s hopes and concerns and empower them to create pathways that expand their horizons and equip them with the tools for change.

  1. Scrutinise council income and expenditure

The annual budget of Torridge District Council (TDC) has been cut by millions of pounds since 2010/11. This has presented major problems in balancing budgets. Recognising that local councils have the ability to raise extra money for local projects and services, TCG is determined to find ways of working with this situation that truly serve the needs of local people. One key purpose of the regular People’s Assemblies held by TCG councillors will be to encourage local residents to participate fully in establishing these needs.

These assemblies will also provide the opportunity to set out the demands on the public budget and help reprioritise future expenditure.

Additionally TCG will seek to conduct a thorough investigation into how effectively council tax is spent, exploring the possibilities of increasing levels of council tax on second home owners, reviewing the private ownership of community assets, and the accountability of businesses which cause pollution.

TDC has two ‘Overview and Scrutiny’ committees on which six non-elected residents can engage directly with councillors. TCG councillors will seek to expand this concept so that the community can be heard directly.

  1. Optimise provisions in the Localism Act

The stated aim of the Localism Act of 2011 was to facilitate the devolution of decision-making powers from Central Government. The four main community rights are: community right to build, neighbourhood planning, community right to challenge and community right to bid. TCG will review the legislation in the Localism Act, aiming to establish the full scope of community rights and break away from the shackles of decisions made elsewhere, using whatever powers are available to challenge decisions not supported by local people.

  1. Devise a Community Charter

One of the deficiencies in local government is that issues such as proposed developments can ‘repeat’ so that the community has to engage with them again and again, leading quite often to capitulation through weariness.

TCG will seek to create a Community Charter forging a future vision for both the economy and ecology of the area. Rather than repeatedly campaigning against inappropriate development, communities with a Charter can present constructively what they are ‘for’, enabling citizens to enter into dialogue with developers, landowners and planning authorities with an agreed basis for discussion.

The Charter can be a way of protecting the community within existing UK planning and legal frameworks.

  1. Review the impact of National Planning Policy on the Local Plan and sustainable development

The Joint Local Plan for Torridge and North Devon was adopted in October 2018. In the eyes of many people that plan is unsound in that it goes against the considered  views of those affected by it. Indeed an independent report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) highlights how many new homes are really needed in Torridge.

TCG councillors align themselves with this report and will seek to challenge unwanted effects of the National Planning Policy Framework. A key aspect of the Local Plan is the definition of “material considerations”. TCG intends to assess how this definition might best be used to challenge decisions made under the Local Plan. It should be possible to join with other councils in campaigning for a legal ruling on the scope of “material considerations”, so that the rights of the local community become paramount.

TCG notes that Torridge and North Devon have already delivered hundreds more houses over the last three financial years than required under the Local Plan.

TCG would support the appointment of a dedicated planning officer to oversee applications for projects which promote low-impact, self-sufficient lifestyles.

  1. Aim to reduce carbon emissions in Torridge in line with IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) targets

  - Seek to establish how Torridge can reduce emissions through energy efficiency, low-carbon fuels and investment in renewable energy consistent with the aim to restrict global warming levels to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Now is the time

Now is the place

Now is the occassion

Now is the opportunity for bringing together the best of the past and of the future

Now is the time to realise the promise of true democracy.

 

Now is the moment of breakthrough!

 

For further information on these policies

please contact Torridge Common Ground


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