Submit evidence to our new Commission on the Future of Localism
This week, Locality, in association with Power to Change, are launching a new Commission on the Future of Localism.
As Britain begins the formal process for leaving the European Union this week, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the EU referendum exposed an urgent need to look at the way power is dispersed in the UK, not just at Westminster but across our communities. English Devolution has the potential to unlock the capacity within neighbourhoods to build better places from the ground up. Yet, to date, it is not going far enough to build community capacity and engage civil society, and many still remain disengaged and uninspired by it.
Our new independent Commission will:
- seek to examine how we can reinvigorate the intentions of localism and bring power closer to neighbourhoods
- review the current successes and challenges of the Localism Act and Community Rights
- examine the role of neighbourhood governance within the Devolution agenda
- explore the institutions, organisations and governance needed to deliver the ‘Future of Localism’.
The first phase of the Commission will review the Localism Act and Community Rights.
The Localism Act has established important tools for communities to save valued local assets, preserve and run vital local services and shape the priorities for their local neighbourhoods. Having long-lobbied government for such powers, we believe this legislation has been a landmark advancement for decentralisation and community empowerment. However, in our role providing advice and support to communities to take up the opportunities of the localism agenda, we also know that challenges remain.
Through our survey on Localism and Community Rights as part of the first phase of the Commission we want to explore some of these barriers – as well as highlight the successes which communities have achieved.
The Right to Challenge, for example, whilst presenting some opportunities for opening-up conversations between local authorities and the community about local services, has generated very few successful cases for communities taking on local service delivery. A revised localism agenda for public services should prioritise co-production and be built around local understanding and partnership on social value.
The Community Right to Bid has been an important tool for community groups in helping to save vital community spaces and amenities. The range of assets listed– from allotments, quarries and lakes, to hospitals, theatres, libraries and community centres – is a testament to the range of community interest across the country.
Yet we know the moratorium period of six months is extremely restrictive for communities hoping to establish viability, develop proposals and access funding. Similarly, the currently definition for assets of community value being used in the ‘recent past’ leaves important and valued local assets vulnerable to misplaced interpretation.
We’ve long called for a Community Right to Buy (similar to that which already exists in Scotland) – which would give the local community first right of refusal on local assets of community value. And in our Places and Spaces campaign we have showcased the social and economic benefits which could be accrued through a new Community Right around community asset transfer on publicly-owned assets.
We want to harness ideas and innovation from across communities to develop the solutions needed for a revised localism agenda which can truly put power close to people.
You can fill in this survey to tell us about your experience or recommendations on the Localism Act and Community Rights.
You can also find all the questions for the Commission in our full consultation document.
The Commission will be hearing evidence at events across the country throughout the year. You can find out more on the themes of the Commission, the full panel of Commissioners and the process for submitting evidence here.