Leading Communities: Community-led Development in England’s Small Towns: the Market Towns Initiative

Gordon Morris


Abstract

The Market Towns Initiative (MTI), a UK community-led development programme, operated throughout rural England from 2000 until 2005/6. It was designed to help local people, with professional support, identify – and then capitalize on – the economic, environmental and social strengths and weaknesses of small country towns.

This paper explains the origins and ways of working of the MTI. Examples of the topics explored and participants’ views are given, and conclusions drawn. The opportunity is also taken to explain how interest in the roles of England’s small country towns grew in the years following the Second World War, and how this led to the development of the MTI.

Evidence suggests that the programme worked well. It demonstrated that local people have the enthusiasm, skills and knowledge to take a lead in the development of the places in which they live; something which, until local government reforms changed roles and structures, was largely taken for granted.

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