Rory, as chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Democracy, last week hosted a meeting of the APPG around the issues of ‘community right to challenge’. He was joined by Ben Llewellyn, Deputy Director of Decentralisation and Big Society at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Karen Mellanby, Director of Programmes at Locality and representatives from Uppingham Town Council and West Bletchley Council.
The ‘community right to challenge’ was introduced when the Localism Act and came into force in June 2012. It will allow communities to challenge and take over local services where they believe they are able to run them more effectively. Other associated rights introduced by the Localism Act are the right to bid and the right to build.
Karen Mellanby told the group there has been a large and diverse amount of interest from communities around the right to challenge and what it means for local governance. There was discussion from all members of the assembled group around the best ways to increase understanding of the new right amongst community groups.
Rory said: “It is great to hear that there has already been strong interest coming from communities, interest in the new rights associated with the Localism Act. But we do need to do more to encourage people to take advantage of these rights in their local communities to improve their local services. That’s why I on behalf of the APPG will be writing to Eric Pickles at the Department for Communities and Local Government to ask him to set up funding for pilot communities who want to lead the way in using their new rights. We have found pilots to be very successful in broadband, big society, and market town initiatives. It would be great to see Cumbria leading the way on this as well.”