Last week that changed to a trial coming to four areas.
These are the reasons why I think this should not go ahead, which I will try and pin down in the next few days, starting with....
1. It's a social experiment and there is no safeguarding of consent.
Who needs to give their consent for any experiment involving human beings to be ethical? Any person affected by it. So who would be affected by this experiment?
The people who are judged fit or not fit to move into a neighbourhood. There are life-long ramifications as a consequence of decisions like this. If applicants knew there was a selection process and that it was down to communities themselves to choose, it could adversely impact on how they felt about themselves if not chosen.
The applicants' children (and children's children to the 7th + generation). Children are the people most affected by this experiment and the least likely to have any part in the decision. They may end up not being able to have the same choices about school that they would have otherwise. Positive influence from potential neighbours may be lost or gained. Their whole future could depend on where they live and who they grow up with.
Their friends and other relatives. There already is selection on the new build site that we live on in favour of a local connection. I would like to speak up for those whose friends have been their 'real' family and who, for whatever reason, would be better off away from birth families. No one seems to take this into account perhaps because no one has thought about things in that way, but it's not uncommon to be in this situation at all. Any mental health professional could tell you that. Individual circumstances need to take priority over sweepingly general policy.
The flip side of selection is segregation. I am writing this on an estate that is divided from the street closest to us by a wall - a wooden one - but a wall none the less. Why is this there? Unless you truly believe that 'health and safety' is likely to be impeded worse by walking on a tarmac path than slithering down a dangerous mud bank with nettles and brambles either side of you whilst pushing a buggy and holding a toddler's hand, then the letter from a resident of the other side calling us a ghetto amongst others is likely to be a contributing factor, supported by the potential to build a house where the path runs and use up every inch of land. To borrow a word from another culture, you have apartheid.
Each neighbourhood is affected. Both the selective one making the judgement calls and the one from which others are being chosen. A similar scenario takes place when governments actively select engineers, doctors and other professionals who want to come and live here compared to other workers. Our country is enriched at the expense of countries who have trained their professional people only to see them snapped up by wealthier nations.
When you extrapolate, divided families lead to divided communities. Divided communities lead to loss of cohesion. Loss of cohesion in many towns leads to disaffection on a mass scale. And this 'experiment' is not been undertaken in one community, but four at a time.
How could you possibly then gain consent from all those affected? You can't. You can't even make it to the second level - the children. If there's no consent, then it's not ethical, simple as that.