Blazing a trail

FOR those of us wondering exactly what David Cameron's "Big Society" might look like in practice, it seems that the answer is under our noses here in Yorkshire. The laudable Community Office scheme in Upper Wensleydale has seen local people bring a raft of services back to their beautiful but isolated area, offering a lifeline to those unable to travel long distances to borrow a library book or pay council tax bills.

Perhaps Mr Cameron should himself take the time to visit a project which was blazing this particular trail long before he entered Parliament. While he is up there, the Prime Minister might be advised to listen to the people who are now running these community services. Their message is identical to that emanating from the charities that he hopes will also step into the void left by the retreating public sector.

All agree that a society where services are led by local people and third-sector groups is an admirable concept – but that people cannot afford to simply work for free. There is a place for volunteers, of course. But funding must be made available to ensure such projects receive the support that they need.

Back to the top of the page