Last night a couple of us (Hannah Gibbs, Project Support Officer and Jaina Patel, Marketing and Communications Manager) attended the CLES NewStart Launch event in London. We heard about the new online services that they are setting up together which aims to support all of us working in the regeneration sector through case studies, research and policy analysis. The speakers were Andy Sawford (Local Government Information Unit), Nicola Steuer (New Economics Foundation) and Richard Cairns (Audit Commission). Each of them presented their thoughts about some of the challenges and opportunities posed by localism and how it can help to make better places.
We thought we would share some of the issues raised:
- What can we do here and now to make sure that we hold onto institutions which advocate the case for disadvantaged communities? – We agree it’s really important that during this period of upheaval, so communities continue to have a voice. Organisations such as CLES, NEF and The Glass-House can help to do this
- Changes in the economy affect different communities in very different ways – it is therefore important that local strategies are tailored to suit the specific needs of each area, but also take into account a broader context
- Nicola Steuer of NEF put forward that our experiential knowledge of our neighbourhoods is in fact expert knowledge on the local level – something The Glass-House agrees with wholeheartedly!
- Localism offers a big opportunities for making better places as it emphasises the assets and strengths of local communities, but not everyone will be able to take advantage of this opportunity due to a lack of skills, knowledge and confidence – support is needed to enable communities to play a confident and informed role
- Making better places ultimately involves compromise
One of the clear messages from the evening is that there is a crucial need for localism to be steered and managed carefully and with a long-term view, or else it could fail to deliver positive changes.
It was refreshing and encouraging for us to hear so much positivity and determination from all the speakers and organisations present last night. It’s really important that we continue to find and make the most of opportunities which arise during these tough times.