You’ve got the power!

Have you ever thought that you could run local services better? Wanted to save a local shop that was facing closure? Or wanted to see a idea to improve your community put into action?

With new community rights, you can do all of this and more.

As a Lib Dem, I believe that local people know what’s best for the area they live in. Previous Governments have centralised too much power, with people in Westminster offices making decisions about places they’ve never been to.

In the Coalition agreement, the Tories agreed with Liberal Democrat plans to give people the power make (or oppose!) changes to their community. This led to the Localism Act 2012.

These community rights granted in the Localism Act have now been in place for the past year, and have been used thousands of times by hundreds of local groups.

For instance, the Localism Act gives local groups the chance to purchase community assets before they’re sold to external developers.

A great example is the Ivy House pub in South London. Local residents found out it was going to be sold for redevelopment, so they got together to raise the funds to buy it. Almost 400 people bought shares in the pub! It has just reopened as a co-operative pub, with music and comedy nights, real ale and food.

If you and a number of your fellow residents want to make changes, you can. To do this you will need to organise, plan, and have a local vote to ensure your ideas are supported by the rest of the community. For the most part this will go through the Local Authority, but once approved by the public you will be in charge.

This means that you can take over local services through the Right to Challenge, build new houses with the Right to Build, or if a park is being sold you can protect it using the Right to Bid.

Additionally, the Neighbourhood Planning scheme allows residents to decide what facilities should be built, and the Right to Reclaim Land means that unused Council property can be put to better use.

You also have the right to create Community Shares for their community project, and if there is not already one in place you can set up a Town or Parish Council.

A full leaflet and guide can be found here.

This is a great opportunity to make positive changes to your local community, so go get involved! If you want to let me know what you’re doing or would like some advice – contact me