aerial view of city during daytime
Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

After 13 years of Conservative Government, it is clear change is needed to rebuild our economy and civic society. For too long people across the country have felt a sense of hopelessness, unable to reverse the decline of their local economies, high streets and public services. Across the country, people are feeling detached from democratic processes, with a sense of being unable to influence change or create a brighter future.

Empowering communities and rebuilding hope for a brighter future must be at the heart of a new Labour & Co-operative Government’s plans. New Local’s report, A Labour Vision for Community Power, seeks to provide the blueprint for how an incoming Labour & Co-operative Government can empower communities, to shape their local economies, increase community ownership and restore local public services.

The new report, developed in partnership with the Co-operative Party, Power to Change and the Local Trust, provides a vision for building community power. Central to this is ensuring communities have the power and rights to take back meaningful control of their local economies, with devolution of powers from Whitehall and Westminster.

As the report demonstrates, community ownership must have an expanded role in revitalising local economies. A new Community Right to Own would give communities first right of refusal on assets of community value, such as buildings and properties, which could be used to deliver community-led mixed-use spaces. These new spaces could provide retail, leisure and residential offerings – supporting local co-operatives and SMEs – helping to breathe new life into town centres. Community ownership will be pivotal in ensuring the future of at-risk local pubs, shops, cinemas, leisure centres and even local bus routes. By expanding the range of assets deemed of community value, we will help to safeguard the future of vital services in our towns and villages.

But it is not enough to just provide new rights. Communities must also have the resources to drive change in their local area. A new High Street Buyout Fund would provide the capital required to ensure communities could purchase major assets of community value on their high streets, such as town halls and former cinemas. The Community Ownership Fund could also be expanded to ensure communities have the much-needed financial firepower to achieve change for their locality.

A Labour Vision for Community Power identifies community energy as another vital lever which can redistribute power to our communities. Community energy growth will be a cornerstone of Labour’s Local Power Plan – enabling communities to develop and generate their own renewable energy – be it wind, solar or hydro. As the report states, community energy “provides communities and local residents with a new relationship to the energy system, providing them with a greater stake in achieving decarbonisation and net zero”.

The Co-operative Party are committed to building community power under the next Labour & Co-operative Government. The new report, A Labour Vision for Community Power, helps to set out the agenda for change – one which seeks to shift power out from Whitehall and to our communities. Through this progressive devolution, we can ensure communities have the tools they need to build genuine, transformative community power.

To read the full report, please follow the link: A Labour Vision for Community Power