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ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP ROLE WILL EMPOWER COMMUNITIES

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The role local government will play in 'active citizenship', the idea which is expected to dominate prime minister ...
The role local government will play in 'active citizenship', the idea which is expected to dominate prime minister Tony Blair's third term, is up for grabs.

The idea was floated by former health secretary Alan Milburn in Progress magazine. He wrote that subsidiarity - passing power to the lowest possible level - will be at the heart of governance.

Labour believes it can give the party new momentum, and transform the political landscape in a way only Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher have managed in the past 60 years.

The idea is to empower individuals, families and communities, allowing people to fashion an active citizenship and make choices for themselves.

But local government figures will be worried about whether in practice this will be done through councils, or bypass them.

If the model is to be the governance of foundation hospitals, which saw controversial direct elections to boards replace local government involvement, their fears will be justified.

In his article, Mr Milburn said the notice would empower local communities: 'They could run services themselves, through a bigger role for voluntary and residents' groups.'

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