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Keep it Local Foreword

Unlocking the power of community

By Tony Armstrong, CEO Locality

A movement is gathering pace. Up and down the country councils and communities are coming together to transform their places.

More and more local authorities are moving away from bureaucratic commissioning and big outsourcing contracts. Instead they are unlocking the power of community: building strong local partnerships, sharing power and maximising local strengths.

This agenda has been a shared priority for Locality and Lloyds Bank Foundation for some time. Over recent years, we’ve produced landmark pieces of research looking at the impact of these trends. We’ve uncovered the ‘diseconomies of scale’ central to the current model and laid out the crisis in the voluntary and community sector driven by predominant contracting processes. Over the past year and a half, we’ve been working together to share and spread best practice and support councils which are choosing to Keep it Local instead.

Over the course of this period, we’ve been privileged to hear in detail about the vital work of the local charities and community organisations our organisations support. How the services they provide on behalf of councils in communities up and down the country transform the lives of the people they serve.

We’ve sought to understand the tangible, practical steps councils and communities are taking together. So, thank you to all the local authorities which have given their time to write pieces for this – to share their stories with others looking for inspiration. Thank you also to the thinkers and practitioners from other organisations exploring the ideas underpinning all of this.

This collection demonstrates the breadth of activity across the country that people are undertaking to harness the power in their communities. It shows us that there is a wider movement growing. That the tide is beginning to turn on the previously accepted ways of doing things.

However, we’re also aware that this growing movement of forward-thinking local authorities are still in the minority. Too often, the prevailing mode of working still stifles the power of community. So, we want to use this collection as springboard, to spread these ideas far and wide.

There is a fantastic array of intellectual imagination on offer, urging us to be bold. To push at the boundaries of the old ways of doing things.

As our offering, we’ve co-designed the six Keep it Local principles with councillors, commissioners, council officials, community actors and policy experts in recent months. We hope they can provide a framework for those wanting to do things differently. And that their further exploration through the essays and case studies included in this collection provides you with the spark to apply them in your places.

Most of all, we want this collection to act as a catalyst. Join us and the growing band of peer councils choosing to Keep it Local.