Scott heralds Communities Week 2017 to champion local decision-making

North Cornwall MP Scott Mann has welcomed the launch of Communities Week 2017 to recognise the empowerment of local communities to protect vital assets and to plan their own future.

Communities Week started on Monday, 20 March with figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which revealed that community rights have been used over 6,000 times to protect over 4,00 buildings as well as green spaces and other local assets.

Communities are also being encouraged to create Neighbourhood Development Plans whereby local residents and representatives and can draw up a plan of how their community should develop over the coming years.

Once in place, they have influence over the planning process including which areas should and should not be developed. The DCLG say more than 1,900 Neighbourhood Plans are underway, including a number in North Cornwall.

Scott Mann, who is also the vice-chair of the Local Democracy Group in Parliament, said:

“Communities Week 2017 is a fantastic way to recognise how towns and villages are being empowered by government, especially here in North Cornwall.

“I’ve long said that it is people in their communities who know best about how things should develop, and the creation of various schemes including community assets and neighbourhood plans have done a lot in giving people more power on the ground.

“A number of Neighbourhood Plans are being drafted in North Cornwall which will give local people a bigger say on how their town or village should develop. This includes Wadebridge, St Minver, Bude and Stratton, Camelford and many more.

“It’s great to see a number of assets being earmarked for protection by local people as well. This includes The Bullers Arms in Marhamchurch, Launceston Library and the Archer Arms in Lewannick.”

Communities Minister Andrew Percy said:

“The facts speak for themselves. More people than ever before are taking advantage of community rights and the support available to make their neighbourhoods even better places to live and work.

“From regulars taking over their local pub to ambitious local plans, community rights continue to give power back to communities across the country.”

Communities have a set of community rights powers. They include:

  • The Community Right to Bid - This helps to protect treasured local community assets. Communities can nominate any local building or land they love as an ‘asset of community value’. Then, if it comes up for sale, they have 6 months to raise the funds to buy it. More than 4,000 much loved assets are now listed including 2,000 pubs.
  • Neighbourhood planning - This helps local communities to shape the places where they live and work. Residents are directly able to decide what type of development is needed, where it should go and what it should look like. More than 1,900 areas are currently drawing up draft plans, covering 8.6 million people.
  • Community shares - Residents are able to invest financially in community projects. By buying shares and becoming part-owners of a business, local people can become supporters, volunteers and advocates. It also means projects get much needed funding to get started and become financially sustainable. £50 million has been raised through community shares offers since 2012.
  • More Than a Pub programme - Co-funded by the government and Power to Change, will provide £3.6 million to help around 80 communities to buy and run their pub over the next 2 years.
  • Communities Fund - Launched in December 2016, provides £3.25 million to support grassroots community organisations to work in partnership with their local authority to improve local services.
  • Bright Ideas Fund - The £1.85 million Community Business Bright Ideas Fund will offer up to 80 community groups in England up to 15 days of tailored support. This includes grants of up to £20,000 to develop their budding community business ideas. Jointly funded by Power to Change and the Department for Communities and Local Government, the 2-year programme will be delivered by a consortium, including Co-operatives UK, Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK, led by Locality.

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality, said:

“The community rights provide communities with the tools to create positive, sustainable change. It’s great to see that communities continue to use the rights to take action in their neighbourhoods.

“Communities Week 2017 showcases and celebrates this amazing work, and encourages anyone who might have an idea of how to make their community a better place to live, to take action."

An interactive map showing all neighbourhood plans and community assets in North Cornwall can be found here.