Voters Deliver 14,000 Ideas on How We Can All Be More Free
Brian Brady; Matt Chorley, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
End multiple CRB checks, red tape, overbearing quangos, and abuse of terror laws, says public
The British people have a New Years message for their government: set us free. Invited by the coalition to suggest improvements to the way we are governed, thousands drew on their experiences and expertise to tell ministers that what they most want is for a match to be put to a bonfire of all the laws, rules and regulations that restrict the freedom of individuals.
The Your Freedom operation, launched last summer, invited suggestions for changes that could chip away at decades of bureaucracy. When the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, unveiled the projects website, he promised that every submission would be read, and urged: Please use this site to make yourself heard. Be demanding about your liberties; be insistent about your rights.
The public has responded on a scale even he could never have imagined, with almost 14,000 proposals, many aimed at what people regard as unnecessary regulations in every area, from taxation and waste disposal, to multiple criminal records checks and form- filling for small businesses, schools and charities. There are several objections to what many people regard as the dictatorial ending of FM radio. There are also deep-seated complaints over apparent abuses of state power, with restrictions on the right to protest, the apparently one-sided extradition treaty with the US, and overbearing quangos coming in for particular criticism.
Ministers have already been ordered to get to work on the best, and later this month Mr Clegg will reveal which suggestions are adjudged sufficiently viable to go ahead, as part of his Freedom Bill. Other ideas may be used in further citizen freedom legislation, or changes in regulations.
Last night, officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government claimed they have already incorporated some of the proposals into plans to strip out unnecessary red tape, including an ongoing review of building regulations.
The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, said: We need a sensible new approach that makes clear laws are intended to protect people, not overwhelm them with red tape.
The majority of responses amount to thoughtful and insightful attempts to oil the wheels of government. But many contributors betray genuine anger at the way they feel the authorities restrict their freedom. …