The policy which may come to define the coalition government has been significantly tarnished in the past 48-hours. A day after the “Big Society tsar” reduced his hours in the unpaid role to earn more money and “have more of a life” Liverpool has quit the flagship pilot project.

The leader of Liverpool City Council has written to David Cameron today to withdraw from the so-called “Vanguard scheme”. This is especially embarrassing as the city was chosen by the Prime Minister to launch the initiative in July:

The government has failed to deliver a single change that we have requested … Liverpool City Council can no longer support the Big Society initiative, as a direct consequence of your funding decisions

With the only Labour borough quitting leaves just three remaining projects: Eden Valley in Cumbria (independent), Windsor and Maidenhead (Tory) and the London Borough of Sutton (Lib Dem). The news comes after the beleaguered policy was linked with a failure by the Conservatives to win a majority in May.

Asked by Scrapbook for comment on the developments, DCLG seemed to disown the project:

The Big Society vanguards are led by local communities and people – not central government.

So why does each vanguard project need to be “supported by a dedicated team of civil servants” from, erm, central government? Wherever a failing programme can be linked in some way to local government it seems the canned response from Whitehall will be as follows:

Nothing to do with us guv’nor!

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  13. Particularly embarassing for Andrew Stunnell who was championing Liverpool’s involvement to the Localism Bill Committee only two days ago:

    From Hansard:

    Andrew Stunell: One of those authorities is the city of Liverpool, so if the hon. Lady had it in mind that we only went to radical right-wing authorities, that is not the case. The others are Windsor and Maidenhead, the London borough of Sutton and a project in Eden district council in Cumbria.

  14. My home city of Liverpool – this makes me proud of you (and wonder why a Tory gov thought to vanguard the Big Society there in the first place).

  15. Exactly the answer the Tories will have to everything.
    “My hospital waiting times are too long” – “Talk to your GP, they’re in charge, not us!”
    “My children’s school is falling down!” – “It’s not our fault you didn’t take it over and build a new one yourself.”
    And so on, and so forth.

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