Open Letter to New City Mayors Urging Community Empowerment

News item first posted on: 18/05/17

A ‘Learning Partnership’ of five organisations with expertise in energy, buildings, land, local community organisations and behaviour change have today written an open letter to newly elected city region Mayors urging them to make good on the promise of ‘double devolution’.

Senior figures from The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Groundwork, the Energy Saving Trust, New Economics Foundation, and BRE all signed the letter urging the Mayors of Cambridge & Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West of England and the West Midlands to ensure integrated planning and pooled budgets are used to equip and empower community organisations to lead the delivery of local services and activities.

Predicting ongoing controls on national and local public spending as well as the political energy of central government being sapped by Brexit negotiations, the Learning Partnership say that newly elected Mayors provide a platform for stable governance over a large area and have the tools at their disposal to join up budgets and think laterally to enable local people to drive change where they live.

The letter also sets out two other recommendations for how each Mayor can help to build stronger, cohesive communities:

  • Expanding devolution thinking beyond jobs and infrastructure and into broader powers and budgets designed to ensure economies are more environmentally sustainable, communities are supported to access new economic opportunities and businesses play a bigger role in supporting wellbeing.
  • Supporting community organisations to develop structures that enable diverse local initiatives and enterprises to operate together to maximise cross-fertilisation and efficiencies and to achieve the scale and quality necessary to ensure they are financially sustainable and able to drive more systemic change.

The recommendations are based on the findings of a five-year National Lottery Funded programme, ‘Communities Living Sustainably’ (CLS). CLS gave 12 local communities the tools and £1m funding to make their local area more resilient to the impacts of climate change while making their local area more sustainable. Over the course of programme, over 60,000 people engaged with the programme with more than 6,000 securing training placements or jobs and nearly 10,000 people supported to make greener choices in their homes or workplaces.

A ‘Learning Report’ setting out the findings of CLS in greater detail is also available.