Community Power Act campaign to launch this afternoon

A new national campaign is launching at 4pm today, calling on Parliament to pass a major piece of legislation which would give local people the power they need to shape the places where they live.

The campaign, called We’re Right Here says it is “led by seven people from around the country who have personal experience of building stronger communities”, who they say have each “done extraordinary things in their areas, from regenerating a disused church for the whole community to offering a place to meet in one of the country’s most deprived neighbourhoods. But each is frustrated that the hoarding of power by distant authorities makes it so much harder.”

They are supported by a coalition of national organisations which say they share a commitment to “empowering communities”. These are Power to Change, The Cares Family, New Local, Locality, the Young Foundation and People’s Health Trust.

Charlotte Hollins, manager of the country’s first ever community-owned farm, said:

“We’ve been doing this kind of thing forever – supporting each other, creating good jobs, building community. But it always feels like we do it despite the system, not because of it.

Those in power are searching around, looking for answers to some of the big problems facing us – like inequality, local decline, loneliness and mistrust. But they’re looking in the wrong places.

We’re the answer. Local people know what their places need the most. It’s time we took back control for real. Looking for answers? We’re right here.”

The campaign is calling for Parliament to pass a major piece of legislation which would fundamentally change where power lies in our country. Rather than politicians and officials in distant centres of power making decisions from afar, local people would have the powers they need to shape the areas where they live. A Community Power Act would:

  • Give communities a legal right to self-determination. This would mean that the authorities would need to ensure that decisions about local services and spaces would be made at the ‘most local’ level possible and with the participation of local people.

  • Create Community Covenants between communities and councils. These neighbourhood-level power-sharing agreements would give community organisations and local people access to significant new powers which would enable them to play a much bigger role in shaping and delivering services and to take control of community spaces. And, once they are agreed, central government would also be required to transfer more powers and resources to the local council.

  • Establish an independent Community Power Commissioner. The Commissioner would hold the government accountable for its performance in upholding communities’ right to self-determination – conducting investigations of government policies, practices and departments and making binding recommendations to put power in people’s hands.

The campaign is organising an open letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove (2). The letter sets out how empowering communities is a vital prerequisite for achieving the Government’s stated aim of ‘levelling up’.