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SE1’s "Old Southwark" council to have five key powers

Five key powers could be devolved to the "Old Southwark" community council covering most of SE1 from next April if recommendations by the borough's Overview and Scrutiny Committee are agreed.

On Wednesday the committee considered a three month long inquiry into the Executive's proposal to devolve power to localised community councils.

The committee recommended that the new councils take on five areas of responsibility planning, licensing, the Community Safety budget, traffic and the Environment Improvement Programme budget.

The Executive and Council Assembly would continue to handle major policy and strategic issues, but the new localised councils would decide on things like small scale planning applications, licence applications and traffic management.

Members would also make decisions about spending on some community safety schemes and projects to improve the environment like tree planting, improving sports facilities and playgrounds.

Cllr Kim Humphreys
Cllr Kim Humphreys (Conservative)

Cllr Kim Humphreys, chair of the cross-party Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: "The community councils inquiry was requested by the Executive in June. There was a broad remit which included looking at what powers and functions could be delegated to community councils and how they could encourage local people to get involved."

"What is clear from the inquiry is that local members have precisely the kind of localised knowledge to inform decisions that have an impact on the quality of services provided. There is still more work to be done but the scrutiny process has provided an excellent start."

The recommendations will be discussed by members of the Executive on 22 October. They will, in turn, make recommendations to the Council Assembly (a meeting of all members of the council) on 27 November.

The new community councils were a manifesto commitment of Southwark's new Liberal Democrat-led administration, and will build on the work of the existing Area Consultative Forums. A Consultation exercise was carried out at the area forum summer events – but participants at the Mint Street Park event didn't like the suggested "Old Southwark" name for the successor to the Area 1 forum, covering much of SE1.

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