Cities Can’t Wait: Community Wealth Building and Local Renewal

Matthew Brown, Nat Defriend, Gavin Kelly, Melissa Mean and Charlotte Morgan

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In times of austerity, where there’s little money but always increased demand, new ways have to be found to provide services and continue to move people and places forward. Cities can’t wait – action is needed now.

There is much interest in the ‘Preston Model’ – where the council, its anchor institutions and other partners are implementing the principles of Community Wealth Building within the city and the wider Lancashire area. Community Wealth Building, the project argues, ‘offers an opportunity for local people to take back control, to ensure that the benefits of local growth are invested in their local areas, are used to support investment in productive economic activities and that people and their local institutions can work together on an agenda of shared benefit’.

In Barking and Dagenham, Participatory City leads the Every One, Every Day project which, through ‘bonding and bridging networks’ helps build community involvement, overcome loneliness and social isolation, build trust and better government as a result. George Monbiot said ‘If there is hope, it lies here, in the most deprived borough in London… Perhaps it’s not the whole answer to our many troubles. But it looks to me like a bright light in a darkening world.’

And in Bristol, Knowle West Media Centre have been developing, over many years, new forms of citizen engagement, smart cities and now housing.

Matthew Brown (leader of Preston Council), joins Nat Defriend (deputy director of Every One, Every Day, Barking and Dagenham), Melissa Mean (Knowle West Media Centre/ We Can Make) and Charlotte Morgan (New Local Government Network) to debate what works, what’s needed and what lessons we can transfer to other cities. Gavin Kelly (chair of the Resolution Foundation) chairs.

Presented in association with the Bristol Inclusive Economy Initiative, University of Bristol.


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