The Localism Bill gained Royal Assent in November 2011. It was introduced because the government said it wanted to push power downwards and outwards to the lowest possible level, including individuals, neighbourhoods, professionals and communities as well as local councils and other local institutions.

The Bill brought in a number of Community Rights. Below we give an outline of the Rights likely to be of interest to you.

Community Right to Challenge and Community Right to Bid

A range of groups – community groups, social enterprises, parish councils, voluntary organisations, and public sector employees – who think they would make a better job of running a public service, have the right to make a challenge to do so. The local authority will have to make a response. If it accepts the challenge, there will be a procurement exercise so those who make the challenge will have to compete against others who might also be interested.

The Right to Bid has sometimes been called the ‘Community Right to Try to Buy’. Communities can seek to get valued local assets, such as village shops, pubs, markets, parks, etc, registered with the local authority so that if they are threatened with closure or come up for sale, they will be given time (6 months) to develop a bid and raise the money. This doesn’t mean they will get first refusal, nor will they have to pay less than the market rate.

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Please contact Action Hampshire for advice and support if you are interested in pursuing either of the above, ranging from checking to make sure you are in a position to bid for a contract, to information about various finance options.

Neighbourhood planning

A new right for communities – residents, parish councils and local businesses – to draw up a neighbourhood plan saying where they think new houses, businesses, shops, etc should be sited and what they should look like. Neighbourhood plans are not intended to be a mechanism to block development. Neighbourhood planning will often involve community engagement; there is more information about consulting with your community on our website.

You can find out more about the range of Community Rights in a plain English guide to the Localism Bill available on the Dept for Communities and Local Government website.