The Sustainable Communities Act - the story so far
Local Works was created by the New Economics Foundation in 2002 and became a project of Unlock Democracy in 2007 after it succeeded in seeing the Sustainable Communities Act passed by Parliament. The Act sets up a radical ‘bottom up’ process where communities and their councils can drive the actions central government takes to reverse community decline and promote local sustainability. Central government must not just consult, but try to reach agreement regarding the proposals for action that people submit – making it the Act the first law of its kind in our nation’s history.
Local Works then ensured that there was a high level of engagement in the ‘first round’ of the Act in 2008 to 2010, seeing one hundred Local Authorities put forward a total of 300 proposals, many of which originated amongst residents and community groups. This was a fantastic level democratic involvement for a new process that many were sceptical about.
Following this, we campaigned to see dozens of submitted proposals agreed by the government, including greater flexibilities for councils when setting local business rates, the power for councils to provide services in local Post Offices and a comprehensive review of restrictive covenants on pubs.
Local Works also successfully campaigned for the Sustainable Communities Act Amendment Act to become law in April 2010, just before Parliament was dissolved for the general election. This Amendment Act ensured the original Act was strengthened by making it an ongoing process and empowering Parish and Town Councils to submit proposals directly to central government.