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Jul 26

Policy update // July 2017


News from our policy team on the progress of our Localism Commission, our Keep it Local for Economic Resilience research project, and our work with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing.

Commission on the Future of Localism

Earlier this week the Commission on the Future of Localism held our second evidence session in Bristol. We established the Localism Commission in association with Power to Change to investigate what is needed to reinvigorate local democracy and empower communities. The Commission is led by our expert panel of Commissioners – including politicians, policy experts and community leaders- and is chaired by Lord Kerslake.

At our event on Monday we were joined by three inspiring speakers who gave their take on neighbourhood-led governance and putting communities in control. Peter Macfadyen, took us through the story Frome Town Council – and how six years ago a group of residents decided to embrace the landscape of localism and run a campaign as a group of independents to lead the town council. They’ve reset the relationship between citizen and council, recognising that a key part of the councillor role is to find out and bring in the expertise that exists in the community.

Penny Evans of Knowle West Media Centre outlined their work on using arts and digital technologies in community participation, particularly with young people, and how creativity can guide co-production. We heard, for example, about their Living Living Room project which is about making information and data about the local community fun and accessible for people.

David Sweeting, from Bristol University, presented his research on urban governance and mayoral models. We heard how having dynamic accountability structures which incorporate different ‘levels of local’ can be a key challenge, as well as linking community participation into the way accountability is approach from the centre.

We were also joined by community organisations and practitioners, local government, and experts in localism and participation, making for some really interesting discussions. We’re writing up the key findings, which will be feeding into the Commission alongside the written evidence we have already received.

We’re holding our next evidence session on the 18 September in Manchester, 11am-3pm – get in touch with to find out more about this event, or for other ways to feed into the Commission.

Our research on local economic resilience

Locality has been working with six local areas to explore how local authorities can use commissioning and procurement to support local economic resilience in communities. We’ve been developing and testing an Economic Resilience Assessment Framework to shape commissioning practice, and finding new ways of measuring and articulating the impact that community organisations have on the local economy.

Our research is now drawing to a close and we are organising a ‘share and learn’ event to inform our final conclusions, bringing together our six pilot areas with community leaders, policy experts and our wider network of Keep it Local councils. At the event, we will also be platforming examples of innovative practice from across Europe, drawing on Locality’s work with the InnoSi research project.  This project has highlighted the potential of local initiatives, cross-sector collaboration and social action to tap into new capacities and resources to achieve public policy goals, and our briefing paper highlights innovative pilot projects in Finland, Sweden and Manchester, and the lessons they provide for UK policy.

The event will take place on 14 September in Bristol and feature Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor of Bristol, delivering a keynote speech on “Why Councils need to Keep it Local”, a number of workshops, and Kersten England, Chief Exec of Bradford Council, speaking on council culture change. You can register to attend here or contact for more information.

What Works Centre for Wellbeing – call for evidence

Locality are part of the research consortium ‘What Works Wellbeing’ which is developing evidence and resources around what government, local government, businesses and the VCS can do to improve wellbeing.

A key theme of the research partnership is around community wellbeing. As part of this they are currently looking for evidence around how interventions designed to improve community places and spaces are effective in improving social relationships and community wellbeing.  If you have had a piece of work or project evaluated – by researchers or funders – about the impact of your organisation on social relations, it would be great to hear about it. You can read the full call for evidence here.

Get in touch with to find out more.

Join us at our next Locality Health and Wellbeing Network meeting

If you are a Locality member working on health and wellbeing – get in touch to sign up to our member-led network! We are holding out next network meeting on 6 September in Manchester – to register please sign up to attend here.

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