A COMMUNITY leader in Bolton is lobbying the government to help communities across the country have a say in how their neighborhoods are run.
Inayat Omarji MBE is one of six nationwide community leaders leading the We’re Right Here campaign group.
The aim of the group is to distribute power and decision-making regarding the management of local communities, so that the people who exist there and already contribute to improving them every day can have their say.
Mr. Omarji said, “We are all volunteers. We volunteer our time to say we have the experience of fighting against the tide to make a difference and we know others are doing the same.
They have put forward a proposal for a new bill called the Community Power Act, which will try to distribute power in three ways.
Establish three new community rights
- Communities should have the right of first refusal once buildings and spaces with significant community value are offered for sale.
- Collaboration between communities and public institutions in the design, commissioning and delivery of local services.
- Increase community control over major spending decisions that affect local neighborhoods.
Introduce community pacts
Neighbourhood-level arrangements would bring together local people, community organizations and local authorities to make decisions.
Establish a Community Food Commissioner
This independent office would ensure that action is taken across government to uphold rights and covenants.
“That would basically indicate where the power is,” Mr Omarji said.
“In short, what we want to do is build trust in communities and empower the people who know their community best.
“People in local communities respond to issues every day. We are here every day and it is hard.
“I’ve spent sleepless nights knocking on doors to make things better for my local community and that’s not how it should be.”
The proposal is backed by a number of national organizations, including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Power to Change, which Mr Omarji says will help the cause.
Our Community Power Act would give communities a say in the public services they want and need.
Like Natascha in Bournemouth, where the community has come together to provide vital, affordable and accessible transport to local hospitals.
— We’re Right Here: The Community Power Campaign (@right_hereUK) May 17, 2022
“They are all in agreement with what we are doing.
“It’s no different from the government’s upgrading program. It fits perfectly.
Mr Omarji pointed to Bolton Council’s community alliance scheme, from which he drew parallels to the Community Power Act.
“Bolton is already trying to get something done, while we are trying to get something through Parliament. Get it stamped as an act and get government support. Then there is responsibility.
“A law in place with accountability with the support of local and national organizations will give neighborhoods and communities the chance to have their say.
READ: NEW YEAR’S HONOR: City champion gets a wink
He added: “What I would say to politicians is you really need to take the pulse of the communities, and they will do a lot of the work for you and ultimately it will save you money. .”
To learn more, visit The We’re Right Here website where people can show their support by adding their signature to a letter to Michael Gove, the Leveling Up Minister.