The UK should ‘reboot’ localism so communities can influence more decisions in their local neighbourhoods, according to a new report by think tank Centre for London.
The report proposes a series of reforms including introducing Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) and giving communities the right to buy local assets, which it says would enable residents to shape the future of their neighbourhoods, strengthen communities and enhance local public services.
According to the report, a CID would be a more flexible hybrid of the Business Improvement District (BID) model and the civic focus of parish councils.
It could be set up at the request of a local neighbourhood group, be established through a local ballot with renewal every five years, operate within a defined geographic area, have the ability to raise a levy on council taxpayers and focus on local need and priorities issues with expenditure limited to those issues.
The report also urges England to allow local groups who express interest in a registered building have statutory first refusal if it came up for sale.
The report, Act Local: Empowering London’s Neighbourhoods highlights that people want more control over the places where they live and work but there is a disconnect between the desire to get involved and the perceived ability to influence change.
In London, only around 35% of Londoners believe they can influence local decisions, yet 65% agree it is important to be able to.
Joe Wills, Senior Researcher at Centre for London 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.’
Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change added: ‘Our work across the country shows the kind of transformation that is possible when communities take the lead, whether running local services, building affordable housing or revitalising their high streets by taking on vacant shops.
‘We want to see more concerted action by national and local policy makers to give people greater control over what goes on in their neighbourhood. The recommendations in this report are a positive step forward which we support.
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