Big society 'town hall tour' scrapped

Public anger over big society-related cuts interrupts first gathering

Stockport college
Stockport college

The Communities and Local Government department and the Big Society Network have abandoned their programme of 'town hall tours' after a turbulent first event in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

The tour was announced earlier this year as part of the government's big society agenda. It was hoped the 12 events planned would give people the opportunity to discuss what could be done locally.

But the plans were changed after the initial gathering last month was interrupted by shouting from members of the public, who used the gathering at Stockport College to air their grievances about cuts in relation to the big society.

Paul Twivy, chief executive of the network, said the tours had been "redefined" because there was no longer a need for "more vague listening exercises".

"At the moment, if you try to do any public meetings about the big society, everything is completely driven by anger, anxiety and nervousness about what cuts the spending review will produce," he said.

One person who attended the event, who did not wish to be named, said it generated lots of good ideas but too much anger.

Twivy said the abandoned tour would be replaced by a series of 15 "more targeted" consultation events, which would be delivered with partners such as v and BTCV, and would lead to pilot projects.

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