The pilot scheme to give local residents the ability to decide where spending on their community should be prioritised suggests Gordon Brown is looking to invest more power to the people.

Tens of millions of pounds will be allocated by voters across England as part of an idea the new Prime Minister has imported from Latin America.

They will choose where the money is spent, such as improvements to local parks, increased penalties on anti-social behaviour, combatting local drug problems or cleaning up fly-tipping hot-spots.

Hazel Blears, the new communities secretary, has announced 10 national pilot projects, to include Birmingham, Merseyside, Lewisham, Bradford, Salford, Sunderland, Newcastle and Southampton.

She insists the money will not be allocated to trivial issues, but will be directed to major projects that make a significant improvement to local communities.

The scheme should throw up clearer ideas of exactly where our own priorities lie and is not the first time Labour has attemnpted to tap directly into the minds of the average voter.

The e-petition website created during the Blair years at Downing Street has proved something of a hit and miss initiative, providing an insight into the thoughts and attitudes of people towards major issues.

The big question, of course, remains whether the Government will actually take notice of well-supported petitions on the site, calling for mortgage relief for first-time buyers or repeal the Hunting Act.

The difference with this latest initiative, at first glance at least, appears to be that local people will actually have the ability to put money where their mouths are and make a contribution to their local community.


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