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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.