David Burbage’s weblog

Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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Archive for the ‘Big Society’ Category

Delivering our 2011 Manifesto (Big Society)

Posted by davidburbage on April 7, 2015

On the platform, next to Eric

As one of the vanguard councils delivering the Big Society philosophy, we’ve been continuing to extend and enhance our support for civic engagement, volunteering and putting people first.

What we pledged is in bold what was delivered is in italic font.

Our full 2011 manifesto is published here and our 2015 manifesto is coming shortly.

Encourage businesses to allow employees to volunteer (CSR / civic service)

We’ve succeeded in engaging Centrica, Adobe, Veolia, MacDonald’s and others. We continue to promote Corporate Social Responsibility and recently I hosted an event at the Guildhall for local businesses.

Promote increased internships within the council and through local employers

With local employers and at the Council, we’ve offered over 200 places of which over 150 have been taken up

Extend Adopt-A-Street

Over 1000 volunteers are now part of the Adopt-A-Street scheme, and now includes schools, voluntary groups and employers.

Remove barriers for communities to take action for things that matter to them Improve volunteering capabilities, volunteering websites and opportunities

Over 3000 volunteers overall now support residents related to local authority functions. We have awarded 43 organisations Big Society grant and have improved the volunteering website and liaison.

Give awards for the best kept street and community projects

Annual Best Kept Street and Volunteering Awards now take place

Enable the Council‟s Big Society Panel to be given a budget to invest seed capital in social enterprises

Applications for grant funding come to the Big Society Panel for decision. 5 new businesses have been funded and more applications are being considered.

Introduce an adopt-a-garden scheme for residents who may wish to access land for an allotment or otherwise to support elderly or busy residents

Maidenhead and Windsor now have the scheme available. Seven gardens now adopted and scheme continues to be advertised. 

Continue to promote the Big Society through open days, and seek to improve work across the Borough‟s boundaries

Open days have been held in Maidenhead and Windsor, and working with Windsor and Maidenhead Get Involved, who run similar services in Slough, we’re benefiting from their wide experience

Maintain funding for voluntary sector

Grants panel funding has been increased, and support has been given through the Borough’s individual councillor budgets and through neighbourhood participatory (voted) budget schemes. 

Add transparency to all areas of council services including parking and traffic

The council’s transparency page contains lots and lots of information about our services

Bring in neighbourhood budgets through participatory budgeting

Many successful projects have been rewarded through popular, voted support for localised or specialist needs through our bi-monthly voting rounds. 

Deliver the “CareBank” initiative

Over 5500 hours have been contributed through this scheme run with WRVS

Allow greater community use of under-used council facilities

Childrens Centres are now open to the public and voluntary groups during extra hours, and the external bookings for council buildings rose from 3079 to 7488 in 2013/4.

Posted in Big Society, Conservative success, Council, Manifesto 2011 | Leave a Comment »

Transparency of public meetings

Posted by davidburbage on August 13, 2014

This is a hoot. Elected councillors at all levels shouldn’t hide in public – thanks to Eric there really is nowhere to hide!

We have every ambition to increase the public’s participation in civic society, and is part of our Big Society agenda.

This is also a good watch. The point made near the end (about the accuracy of a single recording) is particularly sharp because we’ve been in meetings where the council team haven’t recorded the meeting, and a member of the public has done, we’re then in the position of defending the accuracy of minutes, a month later !

 

Posted in Big Society | Leave a Comment »

Maidenhead Food Bank

Posted by davidburbage on January 1, 2013

maidenhead-foodbank Visited Maidenhead’s Food Bank just before Christmas – they were stocked full and yet need more space – we’re doing what we can to locate some better premises.

It does go to show that the welfare state isn’t working terribly well when there’s a rising need, as there has been for the last few years, for direct food charity from local people to those who can’t afford to properly feed themselves and their families – and this in a pretty well-off part of the country.

2013 can be a year of the reality check, when the important things are recognised and the less important are put in their proper place.

 

Posted in Big Society, General, Maidenhead | Leave a Comment »

Justice For Rioters

Posted by davidburbage on February 24, 2012

 Listening to the reaction of the shop owner makes you proud to be British.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17154739

Now can we get the European Court of Human Rights to do the right thing? (pun intended)

Posted in Big Society, General | Leave a Comment »

Promoting Diamond Jubilee Woodland . . . .

Posted by davidburbage on December 5, 2011

 Had the great privilege to be invited to a reception in the River Room at the House of Lords last week. Pictured speaking is Lord Strathclyde, on his left the CEO of the Woodlands Trust Sue Holden, and on the far left former MP Tim Boswell (now Baron Boswell of Aynho).

The reception was to celebrate the Jubilee Woods project, which the Borough is doing its best to take part in. Ideally, the creation of a 60 acre wood to form a Diamond Jubilee Wood would be the contribution from the organisation or local authority concerned. There were a few other local authorities represented, but it was a good opportunity to meet with some of the key players driving the project forward.

Also present (not pictured) were Clive Anderson, the president of the Woodlands Trust and Richard Benyon, the Newbury MP and junior agriculture Minister.

Expect more on this topic as we go into 2012!

Posted in Big Society, General | Leave a Comment »

On the new 52 pages of planning guidance

Posted by davidburbage on September 9, 2011

One of my favourite quips as a councillor is that all meetings end up becoming planning policy discussions. Whether it is on retaining business rates (“you’ll need to change our planning policy”), or adding car parking spaces (“you’ll need to change our planning policy”) or building a school extension on the edge of the flood plain – (“you’ll need to change planning policy”) it becomes a matter for planning policy.

That would be fine, except all too often local authorities don’t have the right of self-determination despite best efforts to the contrary.

Under Labour, a Local Development Framework could simply be “fixed” by an unaccountable Inspector despite having had oodles of meaningful local consultation and revision.

Under the Coalition, the new plans won’t allow inspectors to actually change plans – but then authorities won’t get a badge of approval. What then, when the developers appeal a local decision to – yes – the unaccountable planning inspector – are they likely to uphold the plan they don’t approve of, or the application that goes against that plan? I think it is the latter.

I don’t buy all of the negative rhetoric about a license to build all over the countryside, but my worries are (1) getting the approved local plan in place and then (2) unaccountable inspectors not respecting it when it isn’t a carbon copy of the government guidance.

Planning policy work is difficult and frequently impenetrable to an ordinary citizen, whatever the good intentions of government. To really achieve a localist outcome, planning decisions simply need to be made locally by democratically elected councillors – which means no appeal to an unaccountable “professional”.

I was told when I became a councillor “when you sit on the planning panel you are sitting in quasi-judicial capacity”.

But the loser in a jury trial cannot just appeal every decision that they don’t like to a higher court that then sits without a jury!

So why can applicants for planning permission appeal a elected panel decision to an unelected inspector, who isn’t local or accountable to the community that has to live with the outcome of the decision – that overrules the local decision?

As the Pope said to Michelangelo

Look! I’m the bloody pope, I am! May not know much about art, but I know what I like!

Ordinary folk can interpret and comment on planning applications far more readily than spend days constructing complex consistent compliant conformant sustainable planning policy.

Our focus should be on improving that aspect of local democracy, whilst absolutely deconstructing the terrible Labour legacy of horrendous complex top-down planning.

Posted in Big Society, Council, General, Labour failings | 2 Comments »

Reform Conference on Localism

Posted by davidburbage on June 20, 2011

  Attended and spoke at the Reform conference on Localism last week.

  Held at the Canary Wharf offices of KPMG, it featured Eric Pickles as well as Caroline Flint.

 Speaking alongside Andrew Harper from Barnet and Steve Reed from Lambeth, the question that sticks most in my mind is one from someone who asked why the Government’s localism isn’t going “faster”.

  I pointed out that it takes an age for Parliamentary business to get from announcement to law – the localism bill is crawling its way through the Houses of Parliament right now.

 For example, whilst we announced the abolition of the Standards Board immediately after the election in 2010, in actuality the wretched quango survives and will be in business until sometime in 2012 – as per the CLG announcement

 . . . the Standards Board for England), will continue to function in a normal manner, considering, investigating and determining allegations of misconduct, until a fixed date (“the appointed day”), probably two months after the Bill receives Royal Assent

As this is likely to be late 2011, for a relatively straightforward change – just stopping doing something – it will have taken at least 18 months.

Also memorable was the community problems of guns and gangs facing Steve Reed ; somewhat different from the “leafy suburbs”. But that didn’t stop community groups and community action – also known as Big Society – from tackling these thorny issues.

For noticing the difference, I managed to get a name check from Caroline Flint !

Posted in Big Society, General | Leave a Comment »

BBC London broadcast our piece

Posted by davidburbage on March 2, 2011

 Available online for a short time only

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mj67

we start about 4 minutes in.

Bob Neill also gives us a credit in his interview, although he didn’t get the name quite right (13:50 minutes in).

Good stuff.

Posted in BBC, Big Society, Conservative success, Council | Leave a Comment »

BigSoc progress covered in The Times

Posted by davidburbage on February 15, 2011

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/frontpage/2011/02/newslinks-for-tuesday-15th-february-2011.html

covers it today!

Features a number of solid “bullish” quotes from me, as well as supporting quotes from others including the opposition.

“David Burbage, the Conservative leader of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, is feeling bullish.  Liverpool’s decision to pull out of the pilot project for the Big Society, David Cameron’s idea for reinvigorating local communities, was “a political gesture”, he says. “It’s a Labour council wanting to give a kicking to the coalition”. He expects no such change of heart in the Royal borough.  “People are starting to understand what the Big Society is all about,” he explains in his office, a poster of David Cameron beside his computer.”

What isn’t said here is that the ‘poster’ in question is a small A4 sheet with the famous “not airbrushed” WeCan’tGoOnLikeThis Cameron picture and a bespoke slogan… produced before we got involved in the Big Society programme.

Posted in Big Society, Conservative success, Council | Leave a Comment »

Big Society progresses excellently

Posted by davidburbage on February 7, 2011

Read all about it in tomorrow’s Times.  [Ed: We didn’t make the cut 🙂 ]

The Shadow Chancellor doesn’t get it though, a bit like his predecessor.

He says

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, at an event in Nottingham, said government money was needed to make a voluntary civic society work, otherwise it was “just a lottery”.

“And if you’re lucky enough to have someone who will volunteer, fine, but if you’re not, hard luck, and that’s not a fair society,” he said.

The problem with his simplistic assessment is that many – three quarters according to Francis Maude – voluntary organisations receive nothing from the Government, but Ed Balls thinks that they should do and that the Govt should step in to fund the voluntary organisation / charity / whoever.

Big Government – typified by Balls – destroys Big Society by creating unnecessary dependency, not by creating sustainable communities that don’t need Govt handouts to operate successfully.

Posted in Big Society, Conservative success, Council, Labour failings | 3 Comments »