Our Letter to Michael Gove
Read the full letter
We believe that empowering communities is essential to fulfilling your ambition of levelling up the country. And we want to propose a new, transformative piece of legislation – a Community Power Act – to achieve this.
This legislation would fundamentally change where power lies in our country. Rather than politicians and officials in distant centres of power making decisions from afar, local people would have the powers they need to shape the areas where they live.
Dear Mr. Gove,
We are a group of people – leaders of national and community organisations and active citizens – who know what it takes to level up the country. The answer is community power.
We’ve seen it at work during Covid, when communities really stepped up – neighbours helping neighbours, local businesses and community organisations meeting local need, and all of us generating a real sense of pride in our places and each other.
Covid has shone a spotlight on the hard work of building community. But we have always been here. We have been doing this for ever. And the truth is that it is like pushing a rock up a hill. For every successful, locally led effort – to create good jobs, offer a place for people to meet, provide a service which the community badly needs or take a much loved shop, pub or leisure centre into community ownership – countless others fail. That is because our system is fundamentally mistrustful of local communities who try to shape their own futures.
People working in centres of power often don’t know what our areas need in the way that community leaders do. And more often than not, they don’t trust local people to do what is best. So much potential is squandered because powers and resources are held too far away from communities. We’re stuck in a system which is designed to do things to communities and not with them.
That has to change. If we are going to create a fairer country, where prosperity is shared rather than concentrated in particular places and among particular people, we have to trust people – those who know and love the places where they live – with the power they need to create a better future. If we are to come together as a country, we need to protect and build more of the shared spaces and local institutions which knit us together. And if we’re to ensure everybody can feel truly proud of the place where they live, we need to give communities the rights and resources they need to unleash their area’s potential.
We believe that empowering communities is essential to fulfilling your ambition of levelling up the country. And we want to propose a new, transformative piece of legislation – a Community Power Act – to achieve this. This legislation would fundamentally change where power lies in our country. Rather than politicians and officials in distant centres of power making decisions from afar, local people would have the powers they need to shape the areas where they live.
The Community Power Act would make three things happen:
- Establish three new community rights. These would give communities greater powers to take ownership of spaces, shape public services and control public spending in their area.
- Create Community Covenants. These neighbourhood-level arrangements would bring local people, community organisations and local authorities together to share power and make decisions.
- Establish a Community Power Commissioner. This independent office would be charged with ensuring action is taken across government to uphold the new community rights, enable the formation of Community Covenants everywhere, and generally unlock community power.
Power, wealth and opportunity are not evenly spread. But talent, passion, ingenuity and determination can be found in every neighbourhood. Now, in the wake of the pandemic, is the time to unleash the potential of our communities. We’ve caught a glimpse of a different, better country and we’re ready to take a stand for ourselves, for one another and for the places where we live.
We ask that you meet with representatives of our campaign to discuss how we might take forward these proposals together.
Looking for answers? We’re right here.