Localism should start from the citizen and the community, and from the assumption that each can be active – creative – in meeting their needs and achieving their aspirations. In resilient communities, citizens are able and willing to share resources - including help and support. The role of local public services – themselves a collective community benefit – should be to enable and encourage these exchanges and safeguard equity, not cut across or reproduce them.
How can people shaped localism be informed by all of the people in a place, not just some? This is a challenge that raises questions about political leadership and accountability, and also raises wider issues for community leadership and the role of public services in facilitating dialogue within and across communities.
Councils and other public bodies need to be better smarter and more generous in the way they bring communities into commissioning and decision making. They need to be imaginative in encouraging different parts of their communities to come together, collaborate and find the solutions that work for them. In Wiltshire, the RSA has built on arts-based practice developed in Peterborough to establish a series of Creative Gatherings which brought together cross sections of local people to think differently about collaboration.