The Localism Bill

The Localism Bill for the UK was passed by Parliament on Dec 10 2010 and become an Act on Nov 15 2011. This bill is designed to transfer power back to local communities from central government. When government became too big a decision was made to decentralize the centre of power. Five measures are key to this bill which are community rights, neighbourhood planning, housing, power of competence and empowering cities and local areas. There are also new rights and powers available to communities.

Right to Challenge

Local groups consisting of volunteers or community members may have good ideas that were not given a hearing to determine any merit. The passage of the Localism Bill transfers power to these groups, any parish council and employees of local authority to run for a local authority service. This is done using a procurement exercise in which a challenger can bid for the office. This is to make the process of having good ideas of local groups to be put forward.

Right to Buy

The types of buildings and businesses in each town or village in a neighbourhood play a role in the local life of residents. Residents often frequent swimming pools, meeting rooms, pubs and local markets and village shops. Significant challenges faced by community groups prevented taking over the assets for a local amenity that has been threatened with closure. Proposal that are included in the Localism Bill will necessitate the need to compile a list of assets that are valued by the community. This allows a group of residents an opportunity to develop a bid and raise money to use for asset purchase.

Local Referendums

Local issues that affect residents in communities of other countries have the ability to put these up for a vote. The ability to have a referendum for a community issue will allow residents to debate and to have their voice heard. The passage of the Localism Bill allows community residents to put issues important to them up for a vote. Public office holders need to consider steps to enact the outcome of the vote.

Approve or Veto Tax Rises

One final element for local communities is the ability of residents to vote for approval or to decline any local tax increase. Local authorities that want to raise local taxes above the cap that is set by the central government will require a referendum of the community. The local community will then vote to veto or approve the tax increase. Previously tax increases only required approval of the central government if a local authority wanted to raise the community tax.

Additional Information

A community planning system is used to decide where to build, what to build and how to build any new structure in a community. Structures include roads, schools, offices, homes, train lines, a water pipe and hospitals. The planning system for communities is made more transparent with passage of the Localism Bill. Previously local residents did not have a voice in the influence of planning decisions that were made for new additions to a community.

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