Ann McGauran 23 September 2019

It’s time to reboot localism, says think tank

Local authorities should formally commit to including the neighbourhood in all decision making processes, says Centre for London.

In a new report, Act Local: Empowering London’s Neighbourhoods, the think tank has called for the general principle of devolving power to neighbourhood groups to be respected.

As a minimum, local authorities should make a formal resolution to devolve power to neighbourhood level, said the report, with councils and community groups monitoring and evaluating the extent and diversity of participation.

Local authorities should maximise the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL), decide its allocation in partnership with neighbourhood organisations, and raise the standard amount allocated to NCIL from 15% to 25%, the report added.

According to the report, the Government should use dormant financial assets to create a Community Wealth Fund to support neighbourhood and community development. Also, to reflect the high cost of land in London, ‘consideration should be given to strengthening the community rights established in the Localism Act 2011’.

The publication include essays from director at LSE London Professor Tony Travers, regional delegate at London Tenants Federation Pat Turnball and chief executive of Victoria BID Ruth Duston OBE. 

Senior researcher at Centre for London Joe Wills said: ‘As a society, we believe that decision making should come closest to those it affects most. Demands for agency and control over the decisions that affect us are being made from all quarters of the UK. There is a sense that our democratic institutions and processes are too distant from those they represent.

'Neighbourhood level participation can play an important role in shaping places, strengthening communities and enhancing public services, but there is untapped potential.’

He added: ‘The government must kick start a new era of localism, to empower communities to become fuller partners in defining the future of their city.’

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