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Localism emerged in the 1970s as a retreat from globalism, corporatism and consumerism, while promoting environmental sustainability and participative democracy.

The Localism Act claims to ‘shift power from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils’, offering citizens new rights and planning powers.

But set against austerity and privatisation, people now recognise the new localism as part of the Coalition’s drive to centralise power and maximise corporate profits. Local communities can challenge councils to run public services, but have lost their right to challenge proposals for nuclear proliferation, fracking, and HS2.

Bizarrely, the government has made little effort to explain localism in ways that connect with the grassroots. It’s become a sterile dialogue between politicians, technocrats and think tanks, in subscription-only publications and expense-account seminars.

Localism Watch is a collaboration between the National Coalition for Independent Action and Open Democracy. It’s aiming to do what the government can’t and won’t – reclaim localism for the people.

Devolution? Or just doing Osborne's bidding?

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill is going through parliament. Who’s likely to benefit, who isn’t, and what’s been happening around the country?

Open up your eyes to 'Devo-Manc'

'Devo-manc' is part of the government's austerity agenda and its wider attack on the NHS.

The new housing bill: people, planning or productivity?

The Conservative government’s agenda is beginning to take shape. What has it to say about the things that matter most to communities? Let’s start with the housing bill.

'Building A Better Future Through Civic Partnership'

The Centre for Inclusive Futures is a small London-based development agency with the mission of supporting efforts to develop sustainable communities which include everyone as equal citizens.

The National Audit Office savages the government's inept "100,000 homes" drive

The NAO’s report on the government’s sales of public land for new homes makes for uncomfortable reading. But it’s not just land that’s surplus to requirements: it’s the use of evidence itself.

Dispatches: how local governments are being fleeced by the banks on £15bn loans

Dispatches will tonight report on the latest banking scandal - the kickbacks and dodgy loans surrounding local government financing. So what's going on?

Devolution, for and against: a tale of many cities

The debate on devolution has become increasingly remote from democratic participation. It needs to be opened up.

The truth behind Osborne's devolution "revolution"

Despite the “radical devolution” promised by the chancellor, the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill will leave Westminster firmly in control of the things that matter.

Osborne's undemocratic devolution

Osborne claims he is offering cities and regions self-determination - but it has to be done his way. Or it doesn't happen at all.

What now for Localism?

So the Tories have been returned with an overall majority to govern us for another five years. What does this mean for local democracy?

What’s happening with devolution?

What genuine changes have been secured for local democracy across the UK in recent months? Is devolution creating powerhouses or poor houses?

A small glimpse of real local democracy

Despite the best efforts of government, every now and again small murmurings of local democracy do break out. And they can be fun.

Localism: a case of old friends re-united?

Looking at a set of recent planning outcomes across England: it’s clear that the localism agenda hasn’t tipped the balance in favour of grassroots communities. The same old names keep cropping up.

Soft power and freedom under the Coalition

The Coalition’s conception of “freedom” has little to do with empowering individuals and local communities. Instead, it means enhancing corporate power by “liberating” services from public control.

Localism: a tale of GVAs, grandees and The Guardian (but not much greenery)

Will localism form part of the forthcoming election manifestos? If so, what exactly? Some early indications on the Coalition side.

Are self-builds the solution to London’s housing crisis?

Self-build schemes can be empowering in so many ways. We need to renew and expand on the self-build legacy.

Voluntary services have succumbed to the privatisers

The Coalition is turning voluntary services into a cheap adjunct to privatisation - and far too many of those in voluntary services have been complicit.

Communities of resistance: resistance is not futile

Understanding how neo-liberalism can be challenged by common and reciprocal action.

Community Rights: where’s the evidence?

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee has reported back on its inquiry into Community Rights.  The government has responded – using dodgy data to reward bad performance. What’s the story?

The Big Society - the passing of Cameron's dream

This was the government's revolutionary idea, its guiding light. Now, the government seems to have given up on it. What can we learn from the final audit of the 'big society'? The audit's primary author explains.

Is the General Power of Competence helping grassroots communities?

The Localism Act gives councils a ‘General Power of Competence’ (GPoC) allowing them the same legal powers as private individuals.  But are they using these freedoms in ways that benefit grassroots localities?

DevoMix Christmas special: LocalismWatch’s seasonal update on devolution

We now know what the Smith Commission’s proposing for Scotland, and William Hague’s options on English votes for English laws.  But how does devolution tie up with localism? A Santa-stic overview of news, comment and (dis)information.

Who really runs our neighbourhoods?

Looking at the progress of the government’s not-knowingly-undersold neighbourhood plans: are they really helping local people take charge of their neighbourhoods? And if not, who’s really benefitting?

LocalismWatch Resources December 2014

DevoMix: localism and the devolution debate

Considering a wide range of media reports and commentaries on the UK’s ongoing devolution debate - do the solutions politicians seem to be offering genuinely address the issues as seen by local people?

Upcoming Localism Events: late November onwards, 2014

The latest on upcoming Localism events.

LocalismWatch Resources - 13 November 2014

More news, comment, advice and information on localism from around the country.

New inquiry - are "community rights" actually working?

The right to very little at all: House of Commons select committee launches an inquiry into the new ‘community rights’.

Upcoming Localism Events – November 2014

Localism events to look out for in November.

LocalismWatch Resources - 20 October 2014

A trawl of the latest online news, comment, advice and information.

Localism Watch Resources – October 2014

Localism Watch resources, October 2014 - including the aftermath of the indyref...

Localism Watch resources, Sept 2014

Resources for Localism Watch, September, 2014

How local is localism? The grassroots view

Community leaders tell me why the government’s localism agenda isn’t really helping local people take charge of their areas. But they did have plenty of ideas for how LocalismWatch can change the picture.

Localism: as if people mattered

The editor of our LocalismWatch series introduces the series by exploring the Coalitions’ localism agenda, exposes its inherent shortcomings and contradictions, and calls for localism to be brought back to the grassroots where it truly belongs.

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