‘Localism’ is a word that you may have heard a lot of in planning and local government news reports, but what does it actually mean? And why is it so important?
Greg Clark, Minister of State for decentralisation in 2011, said that its about helping ‘people and their locally elected representatives to achieve their own ambitions’. In other words, its about shifting power from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and local councils. The Localism Act, which was passed on 15 November 2011, provides the legislative foundation for this more decentralised vision of Britain, where power is returned to local institutions, communities and people.
A key element of the Act was the creation of a new power for local communities to make Neighbourhood Plans which form part of the official planning policy framework. So for the first time ever, we can produce a Plan that has teeth!
Localism also involves several other new freedoms and powers for local councils, so that they can better deal with local issues by finding local solutions.
Cornwall Council has taken this challenge on with great energy by setting up a Localism Service to support local communities in taking on these new responsibilities, and creating a framework through which Neighbourhood Plans can be developed and supported.
If you want to know more about the Localism Act, then take a look at the Plain English Guide to the Localism Act, here: