an aerial view of a city with a river running through it
Photo by Andrey Zaychuk on Unsplash

Over the last decade communities have felt an increased sense of powerlessness, as public services struggle, infrastructure crumbles and town centres decline. Where once thriving high streets were the centres of social and commercial activity, increasingly they are empty and shuttered – no longer providing the goods and services people rely on.

Overcoming this sense of powerlessness will be one of the big challenges facing an incoming Labour & Co-operative government. Empowering communities is deeply rooted in the Labour & Co-operative Parties’ traditions – it’s the very basis of co-operative politics.

The Co-operative Party believe its essential to provide communities with greater rights and powers to shape their local areas. Communities know best what goods, services, and amenities they need on their local high streets. Community-led approaches to town centre rejuvenation are already starting to deliver results. From the Midsteeple Quarter in Dumfries to Coin Street in London – communities have been coming together to rethink and revive their local area with new community-owned businesses. In Plymouth, the Nudge Community Builders have purchased and renovated several shops, venues and spaces through community ownership – creating new places for retail, SME business and hospitality. This has helped to reinvigorate Union Street, one of the city’s major thoroughfares which had fallen on hard times. Now there’s even a community-led party and celebration on the street each year – focused on the community-owned assets developed by Nudge Community Builders.

These results show with committed community groups and supportive local authorities, empowered communities can revitalise their local area. The Co-operative Party believe this model of community empowerment should be expanded and enhanced – so all communities have the opportunity to save, restore and reinvigorate the local assets and institutions they rely on. That’s why we are calling on the creation of a new Community Right to Buy – which would give community groups first right of refusal of listed assets of community value (ACVs) – such as shops, pubs, music venues, and more.

If you believe every community should have a Community Right to Buy, then sign our petition on Building Local Ownership.