Don’t lose hope

There’s still hope to avert the monstrous sell-off of our forests. I’m putting together some stuff on what you can do and how to follow what is happening. It’s going to involve a bit of form-filling and letter writing. I think there’s enough dissent within government ranks to make them pull back from this catastrophic misjudgment. Have a look at the conservative blog for a taste of some of the opposition.

The “Big Society” idea is running into the sand with Liverpool pulling out. Like many political initiatives (remember “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”?), this one appears to be long on rhetoric and short on joined up thinking and resourcing.

One thing that does occur to me though, is why not separate the ownership of our forests into regional trusts, publicly owned but with some kind of democratic accountability. We don’t want yet more quangos, but some structure where local interests are represented might play well into the “Big Society” theme and give the government an honourable exit strategy. Presenting them with solutions rather than just throwing eggs might get results.

I need a bit of time to think this through. Unfortunately this pantomime is giving me migraines!

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4 thoughts on “Don’t lose hope”

    1. If there is a perceived democratic deficit in the way that the FC owns public forests, then it seems odd to sell it off to the private sector, either charities or commecial/private interests, where there is even less deomcratic accountability. If they really want to democratise it, why not have a publicly elected board which has to report to parliament?

  1. The big society idea makes me want to bang my head against the wall. It’s good in principle but voluntary groups cannot run on thin air, they need funding. Watching the voluntary / third sector implode in my city is heartbreaking. This sector has already been providing the sort of services that Cameron talks about in his big society for years now. I can only give my insight into the homeless sector as that is where I work, but withdrawing funding is going to cost more in the long term. Did you know that every £1 spent on supporting people funding saves the tax payer £2.50? Withdraw services and there is increased spending on Policing, health, housing etc. The Supporting people fund in Nottingham is going to get cut by 45% if the voluntary sector does not win its judiicial review. The Big society idea in my eyes is about getting something for nowt!

    Sorry, I know that your post was about the forest sell offs, but once I get started……..

    1. I’m afraid “Big Society” is yet another political “long on slogans, short on substance” ploy. The last government were particularly prone to this disease and the current one is folllowing on. Many of the basic ideas about accountability and involvement are perfectly laudable, but when it comes down to substance it becaomes obvious that it is spin. Apparantly when Francis Maude, the minister responsible for the Big Society project was asked what he has volunteered for, he couldn’t answer! Lord Wei, who is the Big Society “czar” has had to abandon his upaid work on promoting the Big Society as he has seen his income drop so dramatically that he can’t afford to carry on. Welcome to the real world. No-one can sensibly argue that the government doesn’t need to economise, but the forest sell-off really makes you wonder about how they judge their priorities. There’s no financial or definable social benefit for the policy, so why do it? I think it betrays a huge lack of judgement that makes you worried about how other policy decisions are arrived at.

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