People Power

Report from the Commission on the Future of Localism (UK): “…When we think about power we tend to look upwards – towards Westminster-based institutions and elected politicians. Those who wish to see greater localism often ask politicians to give it away and push power downwards. But this is looking at things the wrong way round. Instead, we need to start with the power of community. The task of our political system should be to support this, harness it, and reflect it in our national debate.

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Our Commission has heard evidence about what makes a powerful community. While different communities build and experience power in different ways, there are common sources. We heard how the power of any community lies with its people, their collective ideas, innovation, creativity and local knowledge, as well as their sense of belonging, connectedness and shared identity. We need to bring this into political life much more effectively via a renewed effort to foster localism in future.

However, our Commission has also heard about a fundamental imbalance of power that is preventing this power of community from coming to life and restricting collective agency: top-down decisions leaving community groups and local councils unable to make the change they know their neighbourhood needs; a lack of trust and risk aversion from public bodies, dampening community energy; a lack of control and access to local resources, limiting the scope of local action….(More)”.