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More communities take control of their areas


A further 250 communities across England are now taking greater local control and addressing important local issues, Communities Minister Marcus Jones said today (24 July 2015).

Using the Community Rights programme local people are having a greater say on everything from job creation and health priorities, right through to what development is needed, where it should go and what it should look like.

Following the launch of the new support programme in February, government funding is now supporting a series of new programmes to give people greater local control and influence.

These include:

  • The £1 million Community Economic Development programme – a programme delivered by Co-Operatives UK in partnership with the Community Development Foundation, the New Economics Foundation, Community Development Finance Association and Locality. This is supporting 50 communities to identify practical opportunities to develop the local economy, including a project in Cornwall led by Pop-Up Penzance, which is piloting a number of youth markets to engage young entrepreneurs give them practical experience, develop their skills and ultimately grow new businesses.
  • The £3 million Our Place and First Steps programme – delivered by Locality, the Community Development Foundation and partners, is supporting 64 areas to transform services at a neighbourhood level. Our Place projects include the Shiney Advice and Resource Project (ShARP) in Houghton Le Spring, Tyne and Wear. They are developing an Advice on Prescription service that aims to reduce the number of GP appointments for non-clinical issues including for those anxious about debt, benefits, loneliness and isolation.

Communities Minister, Marcus Jones said:

“There is a growing movement of people up and down the country who are taking advantage of our Community Rights support programmes.

“Local people know what’s already great about the places they live in and how to make them even better, whether that’s through taking control of the local community centre, redesigning services for older people or helping young people into employment.

“Our support programmes will help them to harness their skills and knowledge to tackle a wide range of issues that are important to them and make their areas even better places to live and work.”

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said:

“The Community Rights programme, designed around the needs of local people, includes the first Community Economic Development support for a generation. Co-operatives UK and our delivery partners see this as a unique opportunity to find bootstrap solutions to the economic problems faced by communities across the country.”

Locality Chief Executive Tony Armstrong said:

“Locality is having great success in helping local people to shape their own neighbourhoods through the Community Rights Advice Service, the Our Place programme, through neighbourhood planning and by taking on the ownership or management of important community assets, and our dedicated and knowledgeable team is on hand to help more and more communities take control of their own futures.”

June Robinson, Community Enterprise and Volunteer Manager at the Shiney Advice and Resource Project said:

“Shiney Advice and Resource Project are delighted to be part of the Our Place Programme. This gives us the opportunity to work at a neighbourhood level with partners.

“Advice on Prescription will provide a direct referral service to patients presenting with anxiety and depression which may be caused or worsened through debt and financial hardship.

“We look forward to working with Locality and our partners in developing this innovative solution within our community.”

Locality and partners are supporting 51 areas on the £1.5 million Community Ownership and Management of Assets programme. This includes Gedling borough council who are working with a diverse group of community organisations including sports clubs, an art groups, neighbourhood groups and a play group. Their aim is to transfer ownership of community centres in the borough to community groups.

Councillor Kathryn Fox, Portfolio Holder for Communities said:

“We’re working with community groups to review the possibility of transferring some of our community centres. We will be working closely with the groups to ensure that the resource and capacity is in place and the transfers will be part of our community asset transfer policy which is to be adopted this year, and will advise possible future asset transfers.”

The government is also funding the My Community Advice Service and the My Community Network. The advice service provides expert help and support to anyone who wants to find out more about the Community Rights and how to take control over local land and buildings, local services, the local economy and carry out Neighbourhood Planning. The service gives them the opportunity to download resources from the website, or seek help by email or over the phone with an advisor.

Already there have been over 800 enquiries to the advice service; over 12,000 people have visited the website; and the network has over 500 members. Both the advice service and network are completely free to use and join. Details can be found at mycommunity.org.uk

Alison Seabrooke, Chief Executive of the Community Development Foundation said:

“It is fantastic to see such a high level of interest in the My Community Network in such a short space for time. This shows that there is clearly a real appetite to connect with others from across the country to seek and share advice.”

More communities are also having a much greater say on what development is needed, where it should go and what it should look like, with over 1,500 communities having started the process of neighbourhood planning.

And the Community Development Foundation is working with 115 new communities in hard to reach areas on the First Steps programme to help them develop a community action plan. This will set out the priorities for their neighbourhood and the tools they need to tackle them.

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