Community led local development implies a bottom up approach that directly involves the local community in its own development. Local authorities may support community led local development but the impetus normally comes from local enterprises and civil society organisations.
The idea of community led local development has now made its way onto the agenda of the European Union and features in the proposed regulations for the new financial instruments for the 2-14-20 period. The question for us as practitioners, activists and academics is what will this mean in practice?
One source of inspiration is to look at the community economic development approaches of the 1990s. These reached their high point in the British Objective 1 and 2 programmes of that period. Of these programmes the strongest examples came from the Merseyside Objective 1 programme and from Strathclyde Objective 2. There were also interesting developments elsewhere – especially in South Yorkshire.
The Merseyside Objective 1 programme identified a pair of measures for ERDF and ESF and called Pathways to Integration. The maximum coverage of the measures was 35% of the population of about 1.4 million, i.e a little under 500,000 people. 38 areas were drawn up across the five local authority areas. Each area set up a local action group and drew up a strategy and action plan for its area.