The Localism Act 2011 offers communities a set of new ‘rights’. They may now challenge councils in England to run public services, bid for ‘assets of community value’, build local facilities and make statutory neighbourhood plans. As an added sweetener, the government has earmarked £52m to help communities fund these ventures. But are community rights all they’re made out to be? Not on the basis of evidence that shows them to be fraught with red tape, and a postcode lottery that invariably favours well-heeled areas. Plus, there’s the minor matter that the Coalition’s infrastructure laws strip communities of their right to challenge fracking, nuclear proliferation and high speed rail.
The cross-party Communities and Local Government Select Committee has launched an inquiry into these so-called rights. The full set of submissions received is on the Parliament website here.
Laird Ryan’s submission on behalf of the National Coalition for Independent Action gives a detailed critique of why community rights fail to deliver. It sets out alternatives for a system that’s far more equitable and effective. It’s available here.
Laird will be giving oral evidence to the Select Committee on 2 December.