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Keeping an open mind for services
1:30pm Friday 25th January 2013 in News
A LEADING Worcestershire politician has called for a free thinking approach towards a controversial scheme to ask people to take over traditional council services for free.
Councillor John Campion has insisted that the idea will not fail and believes there is enough goodwill from the public to make it work.
As your Worcester News first revealed last September, the county council is offering services such as hedge trimming, salt spreading, youth centre provision and libraries out to the wider community.
It want groups such as parish councils and residents associations to take them on in a bid to save money.
The project, called Act Local, has attracted scepticism with fears that it could result in huge geographical inequalities in the services on offer.
Coun Campion, who is the county council’s cabinet member for localism and communities, said: “This is about us saying if you want this service to continue, come and tell us what you want to do and we can take it from there. We have heard claims that some communities will not be able to organise themselves in the same ways people in more affluent areas will be able to. Well, my response to that is that localism is done by different communities in different ways. It’s all about a much more free thinking approach.”
His comments were in reaction to a motion by opposition councillors saying that they feared a postcode lottery if more volunteers come forward in some areas than in others.
During the debate, Tom Wells, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “If we are not careful we will see the voluntary sector pick up things like youth provision and people in some parts of Worcester-shire will get a very good service, but youngsters in other areas might get zilch. That’s our concern.”
A motion was backed saying all groups wanting to take on services will be shown examples of good practice to help them make it a success.