We want to know whether localism is increasing freedom not just over what decisions can be taken by communities, but how those decisions are actually taken? We want to test the idea that an era of ‘do it yourself democracy’ is approaching, and whether it is starting (it would make sense if it were) at the neighbourhood level?
How would it be if every neighbourhood in your town had a different model of local democracy and if some parts of the town had designed their own democracy? Would it matter if in the street where you live a traditional neighbourhood council looks after the local park, and cuts the grass, while a mile away residents have voted-in powers for their neighbourhood council to collect £30 a year to do all kinds of other things like keeping the local library open? What if in another part of your town a group of local volunteers had formed a group which now takes decisions over grittier-sounding issues like getting unemployed households into work, or reducing deaths from heart disease? And what if another neighbourhood group seemed to be making more practical difference than everyone else put together, having started a food-growing business using £1 million they had been given to invest?