A NEW national manifesto for the civic society movement has been welcomed by the chairman of Bewdley Civic Society.

Civic Manifesto: Localism for Real was launched in Canterbury on Friday by the president of Civic Voice and TV presenter, Griff Rhys Jones.

The manifesto wants the Government to achieve real localism by improving the quality of public areas of communities, giving residents opportunities to actively shape the future of their areas and giving communities the powers they need to enable their areas to thrive.

Richard Perrin, chairman of the Bewdley society and a member of Civic Voice, said: “We believe the manifesto puts power back into the hands of communities.

“Groups such as Bewdley Civic Society have been campaigning to give a greater voice to communities for years and we are glad to see our national body develop this manifesto.”

Mr Rhys Jones said: “We face a crisis of civic engagement.

“This is a symptom of the frustration people feel as power is taken away from communities and they are subject to tokenistic consultation.”

The group wants specific changes from the Government including to require every local authority to produce a Place Improvement Strategy, strengthen policy to support collaborative community planning for major developments and local plans, and enable local authorities to control use classes and permitted development rights to meet local needs.

Mr Rhys Jones added: “If the Government is serious about localism, they have to listen to the concerns coming forward from civic groups, resident associations and local councils.

“The civic movement agree with the Government that getting the economy moving is essential, but the myriad of proposals coming forward are clearly not the answer.”