Communities and Decision-Making


“We will drive a devolution revolution to give power to people and communities and help fund the services that people need.” Liberal Democrat policy

What is the challenge?

Conservative governments have been taking funding and authority away from local councils, leaving them struggling to provide basic services required by law, let alone improve life for residents in their communities.

What will we do?

The Liberal Democrat constitution says: “We believe that people should be involved in running their communities” and adds that decisions should be taken “at the lowest practicable level.”

We can’t conjure up funds to replace those taken away, but we can use what power we have as effectively as possible by creating a more constructive and efficient partnership between Wiltshire’s various councils and its residents and voluntary groups.

In particular, we plan to offer all residents the opportunity to have their say in how their towns and villages are run, as well as giving more power to the decision-makers that are closest to their communities – area boards and town and parish councils. 

In Wiltshire, a Liberal Democrat Council will:

  • Return decision making to local communities by encouraging and supporting citizens’ assemblies of local residents;
  • Reform the 18 area boards made up of councillors for local areas by devolving more powers to them and making them more responsive and accountable to the needs of the communities they serve;
  • Increase the relevance of area boards to towns and villages by using them to help coordinate work between them, considering ways to give towns and parishes voting or representation rights at area boards;
  • Link area boards together in forums to make decisions that affect larger communities.
  • Increase funding to Community Area Transport Groups and local youth networks to ensure that non-statutory, yet vital, services are maintained and improved;
  • Fast track transfer of assets and devolution of services from Wiltshire to towns and parishes;
  • Use area boards to increase and improve youth services by engaging with schools, youth groups and volunteers;
  • Support innovative community-based projects to improve residents’ health and wellbeing;
  • Ensure that best practice in local government is shared, within and from beyond the county.

Immediate priorities

  • Review the funding arrangements for area boards;

  • Consult with town and parish councils as to what they want from an area board;

  • Initiate planning for citizens’ assemblies.
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