If people feel they have little say over the decisions that affect the local communities in which live, they can feel disconnected and powerless to shape them.
The traditional model of command and control from Whitehall has been viewed by many, especially in deprived communities in the North, seaside towns and rural areas, as failing to address their needs.
By the end of the decade local government will be facing a funding gap of £5.8 billion – this is having a devastating impact on local services. There are already fewer libraries, fewer Sure Start centres and fewer youth centres because of cuts to local government.
A Labour Government will give local government the funding it needs. However, we have been clear – there is no one-size-fits-all devolution. Different communities with different needs require personalised approaches to devolution. Our 2017 Manifesto committed to giving people a real say over their local services, devolving power to help tackle the housing crisis and give people greater control over local transport.
Labour will give communities more power to shape their town centres and introduce a ‘rural-proofing’ process so that all laws and policies consider their impacts on rural communities.
The Labour Party exists to work together and build a sense of community. Since our creation we have recognised that it is those on the ground in their local communities who are best placed to guide their elected representatives in measures to achieve this.
The challenge for Labour now is to build on the policies outlined above in a way which supports the debate about where power will sit in the future and how democratic accountability can be improved in local communities.
To this end we have produced the consultation paper “Giving people the power to shape their communities.” which contains a series of questions looking at implementing further devolution and how best to give people their say. We want to hear your views, and help us develop our policies to build a more equal Britain for the many, not the few.
You can read and respond to the Housing, Local Government and Transport Policy Commission Consultation here:
Jim Kennedy is the NEC Co-Convenor of the Housing, Local Government and Transport Policy Commission of the Nation Policy Forum.