The decision to leave the European Union provides an opportunity to give more power directly to communities, Tony Armstrong, the chief executive of Locality, has said today.
Writing in a blog published on the website of the community group membership charity, Armstrong said that although he had voted for the UK to remain in the EU he believed that the decision to leave presented an opportunity to have a national debate about the future of communities.
"Now is the time to think about how power is dispersed and used across the country," he said. "We need to give more power directly to communities to influence what happens in their areas. We do not need to play PR games that push slogans such as the ‘northern powerhouse’ as an alternative to true devolution, which involves local people in decisions that affect their local areas."
He said that the ending of EU funding would have clear consequences for community organisations involved in delivering its programmes and distributing its funding. Leaving the EU could also lead to "spending cuts in some areas and perhaps a re-prioritisation of spending", Armstrong said.
He said that more focus needed to be placed on the social economy to help avoid "lopsided economic policies that stoke the south-east economy at the expense of the rest of the country".
He said: "We must give more people a stake and support more common ownership models of assets and land – more community-owned building and land that can support sustainable income, more community-led housing and more support for community organisations more generally."
He said that politicians needed to show leadership and end the "foul and unpleasant debates based on fear and half-truths". Armstrong said: "We need to move away from binary bad and good arguments and recognise the challenges that we face are more complicated than that. The coming dialogue needs to bridge the chasms that have been exposed."