Big society: is the anti-red tape message getting through?

Is the government’s much-vaunted anti-red tape, common-sense message starting to filter through to the world of local authorities?

At a big society-themed fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat party conference this weekend, an employee of Wirral Borough Council cited an interesting example of the message reaching the grass roots.
 
She said a local community group had called to ask the council’s permission to erect a gazebo at a fundraising event it was holding. She admitted that she had groaned inwardly at the prospect of the health and safety checks she would have to arrange, and the forms she would have to fill out, in order to grant the permission.
 
But when she contacted another council department to make the arrangements, the response was surprising.
 
“Just let them get on with it and tell them to use a bit of common sense,” the official said, much to her approval.
 
Is Wirral a rare exception, or are councils around the country cutting red tape in response to the government’s big society agenda? And do charities welcome this, or are they worried that they’ll be the ones to blame for any accidents or mistakes that result from it?
 

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