The Enfield Experiment - radical ideas to tackle economic decline.

An article on the Guardian website today announces a major new and ongoing series exploring the economy of Enfield - with a focus on Edmonton - it is a way of charting wider economic progress through the lens of one community and a serious attempt to follow one community through regeneration. 

Aditya Chakrabortty- the Guardian's senior  economics commentator, and former local, writes about work undertaken by Bowes Ward Councillor Alan Sitkin, bringing in a couple of academic economists to review the current situation and propose a series of radical ideas.

They are calling this "the Enfield Experiment" and Chakrabortty promises that "...the Guardian will track the Enfield Experiment for the next couple of years: to see at which hurdles it falls, what lessons get learned and how many successes chalked up..."

You can read the full article here and respond to the Guardian invitation to contribute to the project:

If you know Enfield and would like to share your thoughts, experiences or photos please email, leave a comment below or tweet us at @guardiancities, using the hashtag #EnfieldExperiment

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A follow up video came out today Richard, thanks

How long before Theresa May decides that Alan Sitkin is a communist and therefore tantamount to a terrorist and should have his British citizenship removed?

Theresa May doesn't have the most enviable record at organising expulsions of undesirable aliens! :)

Let's hope we can retain Councillor Sitkin (and his colleagues) in Enfield long enough to give this bold and radical experiment a chance to run its course - which, if successful, could make significant difference to many people in Enfield and Edmonton.

Tom, I don't understand the "patronising" jibe or some of the other things you are writing here. Am stepping out of the thread because I'd rather not engage on that kind of unfriendly level, especially one where I am being totally misrepresented. For instance, you and I certainly agree about the need to manage councils efficiently. If you really want to discuss the 27% cut in Enfield Council's resources, let's get together - with pleasure! Can get a coffee at the new place on the NCR near Brownlow, you have my contact details. But ad hominem attacks are no fun, especially when I'm being accused of things I never came close to thinking or saying (i.e. the lower income jibe?? my supposedly reducing business rates to attracting new businesses...). OK? 

I don't understand, Tom, that is totally wrong. I never came close to saying anything remotely resembling that about you or your friends. Why would I - I don't know you!! Plus this is a public forum - it makes no sense that I'd launch a personal attack on local residents. Please consider whether you could retract what is definitely a mistake. Thank you.

Otherwise and to repeat what I wrote above, have withdrawn my substantive post from this thread because I feel uncomfortable with the tone I've encountered. We can always debate the topic itself, namely how the Tory Government's swingeing cuts have diminished our ability to subsidise small local firms - something that like you I'd very much want to do in the ideal. But please, can this debate be conducted with civility? Starting I think by a private coffee, to re-establish trust. For the moment, I'm feeling once burned, twice shy about public discussions. 

Alan Sitkin is one of very few politicians who are taking practical initiatives to help ordinary people.  Globalised corporations are sucking the lifeblood out of Edmonton and the eastern parts of Enfield (and, for that matter, most places north of Watford Gap).  The Conservatives look on with pleasure, Labour feels a bit uncomfortable about it but doesn't want to rock the boat.  Alan is actually trying to do something.


I feel I need to step in here - can we stick to discussion about the issue which is the focus of this forum thread. Personalised comments about income are not appropriate here.

Cllr Sitkin has agreed to meet you to discuss the issues you raised I think that may be more fruitful than  continuing the conversation here.



If Cllr Sitkin decided to withdraw his comment then lets respect that - you have the same option to reflect and withdraw your comment - that is not censorship - just polite reasoned debate.


I think ranting against elected officials who get it wrong - or are self-serving - has its place (I know. I have done it too!) but frankly I think your attacks are undeserved in this instance. The petty local issues you cite are best resolved at a Councillors surgery.

To bring this discussion back on track - about the  "Enfield Experiment" Cllr Sitkin and colleagues have taken a bold step aiming to really make a difference for some of the most deprived residents in the borough - and importantly doing something which is unlikely to produce measurable results within the electoral cycle.  This feels like ambitious, genuine public service.

A radical plan to think differently about how the local economy might operate - both for potential employees and those who rely on public services - is something that may prefigure future local authority financial arrangements.

Following an extended period of austerity the settlement between central and local government is now in desperate need of a major overhaul - In a fascinating article this week in the Telegraph journalist Mary Riddell sets out differing visions of organising public finances - in something she calls "the next political revolution".

Enfield could become a pioneer in this new way of solving old problems - and it's instigators should be congratulated and supported. 

Waste and inefficiency is an easy stick to beat local councils with ... it has been a Tory mantra from at least the time of Thatcher and probably before. I am not convinced that there are significant savings to be made from inefficient public services.  Whilst a tiny amount of money may be,  covering the costs of the Bowls Club or whatever other local concerns you mentioned this is really trivial and  insignificant - it's just the reality of running a large £multi-million enterprise. Nobody anticipates making every single cost saving measure in their own household, in their workplace nor should we expect perfection from the Council. Its unrealistic and a diversion.

It has been widely reported that the real pressure on local Goverment finance is Central Goverment decree, with most deprived areas hit hardest - around one quarter of former allocations have been cut in some instances. This is the real reason that levels of service have been reduced. Then there are further cuts to come in the next financial year... and don't expect that "things will return to normal" ... this is the new "normal". Local authority funding alone - whether spent efficiently to the last penny or not -  will not be the long term answer to economic regeneration... but it will be part of it.

I for one would rather see bold experiments  than abdication of responsibility Your dismissive comments about "growing lettuces"  are cruelly unfair to people who have begun to accept the new reality and are beginning -albeit in very small steps - to try and do something that brings those furthest from the labour market closer to the prospect of a sustainable job. Innovative partnerships and experiments are to be applauded - not derided. Some people after years of neglect are not in a position to jump straight into a well-paid job - even if they existed.

Your message assumes a reduced tax burden on individuals and businesses is a "good thing". Personally I would be happy to pay more tax and higher rates if the central pot was put to good use to reduce unemployment; provide every child with a well resourced school; enable hospitals to treat patients with dignity. This would result in better society for all of us to enjoy.

Hear, hear!  That would be a civilised society, of the sort that we were working towards in the fifties, sixties and seventies.

I think quoting a comedian who is a recovering addict and was sacked from the BBC for abusing a pensioner  really contributes nothing of value to this debate.

Comedians have been critical of politicians as long as there have been politicians - or's not news.

Take a look at Hogarth and Gilray cartoons from the 18th century, The sixties satire of That was the Week that Was, or Private Eye,  1980's TV show Spitting Image ridiculed Thatcher, I still watch long running TV shows like Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You which regularly criticise politicians - we even have a West End Farce in London at the moment The Duck House poking fun at MPs in the wake of the expenses scandal ...  (It's a good night out - try it).

This is all part of the rough and tumble of political debate - and all hugely enjoyable but not one of them is offering a replacement manifesto...

 ... so please don't pretend that Russell Brand has anything significant or profound to say.

If you really want to take a direction from a comedian - rather than a politician -  the response to Brand's comments by another comedian Robert Webbe is really worth reading.

Brand's quote which you repeat in this discussion is dismissive of "The Political Class" and "Voting" - I'd be interested to know what your alternative structures are?


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