Big Society views for South Holland wanted

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THE man charged with delivering the “Big Society” in South Holland says he is open to any suggestions from the community to transform the way services are run in the district.

In South Holland District Council’s new-look cabinet deputy leader Nick Worth has been handed the title of portfolio holder for the Big Society and Localism and says David Cameron’s big idea will be “exciting” for the district.

Mr Cameron’s vision was described as “painfully stale” by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams last week but Coun Worth feels it can build on a strong tradition of volunteering that exists in this district.

Coun Worth said: “I am fully behind the Big Society.

“I know it is quite a difficult concept for people to grasp but in South Holland and Lincolnshire we have been doing the volunteering part of the Big Society for quite some time. I think this is now probably a bit more than that.

“It’s not just expecting volunteers to do things for us, it’s about giving them a bit more backing to try to take things on. It’s also about people coming to us and saying ‘we can actually run that better than you’.

“I think it will be an exciting time with some very different initiatives coming forward.”

He said a good early example of the Big Society in action has been the Chain Bridge Forge museum project – where a group has got together to take an old blacksmith’s forgery off the council’s hand to launch a ‘living heritage’ attraction.

Another example will be allowing allotment holders at Fulney Lane to look into managing their own affairs.

He said that the management of some of the district’s other key assets, such as Ayscoughfee Hall, could also be up for grabs for voluntary groups as the Big Society takes shape.

Coun Worth added: “I don’t see us stopping at anything. If people want to come up with a different way of running Ayscoughfee Hall we would certainly look at it.”

He also assured residents that the council will not use the idea as a way to save money.

He said: “That is not what we are trying to do. We want to save our services and all the initiatives so far have been about doing things more efficiently.

“We have ensured we have kept the funding for our voluntary sector and we are going to look at every opportunity to boost that.

“We have also brought them the South Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Services into the district council offices, which has saved them money.”