The Alternative UK Manifestos. 6: Manchester's Loz Kaye on the power of the neighbourhood
We're delighted to run as our sixth Alternative UK manifesto this from Loz Kaye. Currently working out of Manchester, Loz is co-founder of the Open Intelligence think tank and consultancy, and a sought-after media commentator, political provocateur and cultural innovator. Until 2015 Loz was also the leader of, and an election candidate for, the UK version of The Pirate Party,
[Note: all images are from Loz's Mayfield Imaginarium project report - mentioned in point 9 below]
Loz Kaye: a Micro-Manifesto for #GE2017
Once again we seem to be getting a 'presidential' General Election, with focus on the big two (English) party leaders. Worryingly, there seems to be a move away from localism and inclusive democracy, for example the Conservative manifesto proposes removing the proportional representation element from the London Assembly.
What if we turned it all on its head? What if we said the most important area for democracy and the society we want is not Westminster, not Holyrood, not County Hall, not the Town Hall but the neighbourhood?
What if the actions for change, and the decisions about what sustains us - food, an opportunity to work, and an opportunity to have some fun - were taken at the neighbourhood level? (For politics nerds, this would be polling district level.)
So that would be the big idea. And here's a micro-manifesto for the micro-level in 10 ideas (with 10 links). Goals for these ideas would be set at the neighbourhood level.
ONE: There will be free food available for each neighbourhood in a "People's Fridge" scheme. No strings attached, not out of charity just as an act of sharing.
TWO: Space will given over to free food growing in each neighbourhood
THREE: There will be a free community space in each neighbourhood to arrange meetings, consultations and fun stuff.
FOUR: There must be affordable, flexible small business space in each neighbourhood .
FIVE: Each neighbourhood will maintain a list of key heritage assets- concrete such as buildings and intangible such as a good Yorkshire pudding recipe. And support their maintainance.
SIX: There will be a "library of things" for each neighbourhood.
SEVEN: There will be free culture tank-up points throughout every neighbourhood - where public domain music, writing and art will come straight to your device of choice.
EIGHT: Each neighbourhood will make use of "meanwhile space", no more empty shop units or houses and a groups of meanwhile space guardians appointed.
NINE: There will be an "imaginarum" in every neighbourhood, a mobile discussion and consultation resource to stimulate new ideas for each neighbourhood. Any major development in a neighbourhood will first go through the imaginarium before submitting planning applications.
TEN: Planning should provide for a diverse offering of joy in every neighbourhood- children's playgrounds and archery ranges, exercise space and pubs with shove ha'penny.
After all, the micro-level need not mean small in ambition and in impact.
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Thank you Loz. And to close, Tom Waits: