Local Councils in Community Partnerships Have their Hands Tied

It is clear from the Guidance produced by Nuclear Waste Services that (despite recent denials to the contrary) local councils who signed up to the South Copeland GDF Community Partnership (and one assumes all the other Partnerships in Mid Copeland, Allerdale and Theddlethorpe) did so to access the promised £1m a year funding. This is what the Guidance says with regard to Community Partnership Agreements:

Developing a Community Partnership Agreement
A Community Partnership Agreement will set out the principles of how the members of the Community Partnership will work together and their roles and responsibilities. The Agreement will be signed by the individual Partnership members. Once the Community Partnership Agreement is signed, Community Investment Funding of up to £1 million per community per year will be available for projects, schemes and initiatives in the Search Area.
The Agreement could be in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding and should include:
– Terms of Reference for the Community Partnership and sub groups
– The process by which decisions could be taken by the Community Partnership, for example potential voting mechanisms. Most of the decisions can be taken by the Community Partnership or its subgroups but the relevant principal local authorities on the Community Partnership will take two key decisions. They will have the final say on:
– Whether to seek to withdraw the community from the process (through invoking the Right of Withdrawal)
– If or when to seek the community’s views on whether it wishes to host a Geological Disposal Facility (i.e., proceed to a Test of Public Support)
– The process for resolving disputes
– An outline Programme of Activities and how progress in completing the activities will be monitored
– Methods for reporting the work / outputs of any subgroups to the community
– A proposed mechanism for the distribution of Community Investment Funding, which will be available to fund projects, schemes and initiatives within the Search Area

It has also been suggested the Memorandum of Understanding in effect neuters anyone within the Community Partnership to support any policy which runs contrary to the progress of the project. Simply put, in the wider world, membership of the CP prevents all councils signed up to the CP from representing the “anti-vote” of our electret on the matter of the GDF.

It should be noted, however, we have not seen the Memorandum of Understanding!  It would be good if one of the Councils who are signed up to the Partnership released a copy.