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Jun 28

Future Places Network: building a better Brexit for communities

Brexit

The Queen’s speech demonstrated that there is one thing above all else that dominates our fledgling government’s agenda: leaving the European Union.

A series of bills were announced to implement Brexit and tackle the knotty problems of how we repatriate powers, from fishing to farming, immigration to nuclear safety.

What is missing, however, from the list of legislation is an optimistic vision of what we want the future of our country to be after we have left. The EU referendum exposed a series of deep divides in our society that have been many years in the making. A growing sense of inequality, that our economic model has not benefited all communities. A disempowering democratic deficit, with people felling they lack agency and control over their lives. And an unease about demographic change, with people living increasingly separate lives across age, class and ethnicity, made toxic by a strident immigration debate.

With Brexit negotiations finally underway, these are the big challenges we need to take head on. And at Locality, we believe that our members – community anchor organisations – provide many of the answers. They can be powerful local economic agents, using assets and enterprise to drive regeneration, often in the most disadvantaged areas. Through community development and community organising, they give local people a voice and strengthen community involvement in local decision making. And they bring communities together by providing inclusive places and services.

Brexit offers us an opportunity to harness this power of community, by localising the economy, pushing power down to the neighbourhood level, and providing positive support for integration. But it is far from inevitable that this will be the Brexit we get. We could well end up with further inequality, driven by an economic model that seeks to win a global ‘race to the bottom’; greater disempowerment, with repatriated powers hoarded in Westminster; and increased community tensions, with immigration returned to the forefront of political debate, and tough border controls causing displacement.

So we have launched a new member-led network: Future Places – to bring Locality members together to discuss how we build a better Brexit for communities. We are organising three network meetings in locations around the country, to learn how community anchors are promoting community empowerment, building community cohesion and driving community economic development; consider how they can do this better; and debate what we need to do to build a more supportive policy environment.

We want to involve as many Locality members as possible in this network, to help us:

  • Shape a positive narrative of what the future of communities can be after Brexit
  • Build an evidence base of innovative current practice to inform Locality’s influencing work
  • Provide practical challenge to each other and help Locality members to maximise their impact locally
  • Compile a set of policy recommendations to influence national, regional and local decision-makers.

We want to involve as many Locality members as possible in this network. Find more information about the events and how to sign up to join here.

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