Headlines: April 26th, 2010

General election candidates are being asked to make a personal commitment to measures to revitalise and regenerate small towns. Action for Market Towns made the plea and said market towns could hold the key to the poll.

It said most Conservative-Labour marginal seats in England contained market towns ranging from Sittingbourne and Sheppey in the south-east to Rossendale and Darwen in the north-west. It believed this could see small towns having a big influence on the election outcome.

AMT’s chief executive, Chris Wade, called on candidates to support strong local leadership and a spirit of self-reliance and enterprise by town councils, community partnerships and business forums. He added: “A renaissance over the past 10 years has helped tackle much hidden deprivation and ensure that, collectively, the towns are a major economic force, but much more needs to be done.”

The main parties, he said, were talking about devolving power but it was not clear whether this would empower local communities in small towns which had shown the way in developing community plans building on the knowledge, experience and aspirations of local people.

In a new report, ‘A Market Town Renaissance: The Next Ten Years’, AMT has set out principles for supporting self-reliance in communities. Now it is asking town councillors and members of community partnerships to question cadidates on policies for empowering communities.