Localise WM & the UK Government’s ‘Localism’ agenda

Localism: the devolution of decision making to communities and to local government

Localisation: shifting the focus of economic activity to local markets – meeting local needs with local resources, though local production and local ownership.

General principles

–          LWM is generally in favour of decentralisation – the ‘subsidiarity principle’ and the ‘proximity principle’ of sustainable development.

–          Concern that we cannot have real localism unless we localise economic power – private as well as public.

–          For good decisions, community opinion should inform and be informed by a neutral and objective process that tests options against societal goals. This seems to be weakened in some aspects of the Localism Bill proposals.

–          Many public sector organisations have been subject to centralised control and targets for too long to have the right structures and cultures to act powerfully on a localist agenda immediately.

–          There are two approaches – a ‘supported transition’ or a ‘big bang’ approach. Government and communities need to give careful thought to which is most appropriate, learning from the past.

–          Concern that the ‘whole system cost’ best value procurement decisions in public service and asset transfer will be made impossible by budget constraints.

–          Concern that cash- and time-poor communities (and members of communities), are further disempowered by being unable to participate in volunteering activities.

–          Localism as vocalism – will the localism agenda only benefit those who shout the loudest?

–          Need to consider appropriate scales for decentralised political power: how can wider-than local issues best be handled democratically in different parts of the UK?
These principles inform LWM’s responses to specific proposals within the Localism bill.

We have also set up a Linked-in group to discuss these and more issues around localisation – please contribute to the discussion there if you would like to debate this further.

Some initial comments on the planning proposals can be found in our article for New Start reproduced on our blog.

A LWM policy statement on Governance is available from our publications page.

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