So how much? Add it all together: policing, benefits, health, road repairs. The lot. How much? You don’t know, in fact it probably cant be done.
That is what Dick Atkinson realised 15 years ago. He runs the Balsall Heath Neighbourhood Forum and he wanted to know just how much public money was sunk into his patch each year. he wanted to see if he could help spend some of it better.
Dick has written about this in many of his books and pamphlets. More importantly he has argued the case year after year as politician after politician came to visit his court in the pyramid building where the forum his based. Among them the Tories. David Cameron has visited Balsall Heath at least three times to my knowledge. He’s stayed here to find out more about inner city living. He gave a Chamberlain Lecture (link to mp3 Chamberlain forum here) on civil renewal in a small church in the Seven Streets Neighbourhood.
Yesterday – as one of the Birmingham bloggers invited to the Tory Party conference – I bumped into Alistair Burt MP. He too has visited Balsall Heath and told me that Dick’s wish is close to coming true:
I’ve had a rootle around and can’t find much more detail of how this idea of a Sustainable Communities Statement does or will work. He wasn’t the first person to mention it here. Greg Clarke, shadow minister for the cabinet office (is that Tom Watson’s shadow or Phil Hope’s), also mentioned this at an NCVO fringe event held at BVSC on monday. So where’s the real detail on how much easier it is to count public spending in your neighbourhood? Will it work or does is simply apply to traditional boundaries, such as constituencies? Anyone help?
Other Birmingham Bloggers who were also at the conference:
Dave Harte on posh tories.
Alex Hughes fabulous flickr cartoons.
Simon Gray mostly shared his thoughts through flickr.
Praguetory is still composing his after having a camera nicked.
Dan O’Doherty at Birmingham University Conservatives thinks Cameron should be pm – shocker.