A HILLINGDON MP has hailed the launch of the scheme he designed to breath life back into Britain's local communities as 'giving power back to the people'.
Faced with the prospect of areas becoming ghost towns due to anti-social behaviour, lack of Government investment and the loss of independent retailers Ruislip Northwood representative Nick Hurd created a private members bill in 2007 called the Sustainable Communities Act.
The act became law in October of that year and comes into force tomorrow (Tuesday) when the Government will write to every council urging them to adopt the bill's framework.
Under its influence local councils will be allowed to see exactly where money is being spent and ask for it to be relocated to projects it deems more suitable as requested by residents.
Mr Hurd believes this could eventually lead to a halt in the loss of vital services such as post offices and banks closing down and allow small shopkeepers to prevent unfair competition from bigger rivals.
He said: "What we are doing is giving power back to the people by allowing the council's who represent them to ensure the money given out by central Government is spent in the right way.
"Over the last twenty five years, we have lost a quarter of our post office and bank branch network, along with over 30,000 independent retailers. We are now waking up to the social cost attached to this trend, not least in losing valuable local services which are often the hubs of communities.
"The political problem is that too many people feel powerless to do anything about it. This Act gives people a very real chance to influence government policy and actions to help their communities, whether saving the local post office or stopping the destruction of green spaces.
"If people feel passionately about their local communities, they must urge their Local Authorities to opt in."
Local Government Minister Phil Woolas is a supporter of the bill and when it received its third reading last year called it one of the most significant ever to pass through the House of Commons. Placing it at the same level as the bill to abolish capital punishment and the bill to set out abortion laws.
He added: "This Act will change the relationships in British politics."
Mr Hurd is especially proud of the fact the bill has been made in Hillingdon and said: "I looked at the pressures on the high streets I represent and used them to help shape the act.
"It will give me immense pleasure when I see councils in places like Yorkshire making their towns sustainable and knowing that we in Hillingdon led the way.
"This could well be the most important thing I do in my political career."