One of the pilot areas for the Big Society – which has the aim of empowering all kinds of community – will take place in Windsor and Maidenhead. We are likely to see some projects relatively close by to see how the idea works in practice.
There are three elements to the Big Society: social action, public service reform, and community empowerment.
Over the summer months, every Member of Parliament has a huge range of local events to visit, as people get together and organise fetes, fairs and festivities to support every aspect of community life. It is not about money alone, but about people working together for the public good.
We all know that what works in one place will not necessarily work in another. The key is the energy and enthusiasm which people harness to bring their ideas to reality. That is the one part of the mix for which no government can produce a synthetic formula.
There have already been some projects in Buckinghamshire where community resources, like libraries, have been taken over by groups at the local level. They know better than any centralised committee what each community needs.
The Big Society could encompass any aspect of local life. It is about challenging how services can be provided as well as devolving control, but it will involve the vision of individuals about the places where we live and work.
Sometimes we talk about the ‘powers that be’ which prevent things from happening and we need to look at those processes too.