Community Right to Challenge

The Community Right to Challenge allows communities to express their interest in taking over local services that they think they can run differently and better.

If the expression of interest is valid, a competitive procurement exercise will then take place involving all other interested organisations.

We have to respond to this challenge and consider the positive impact the proposal may have on the community. If the proposal is turned down, we have to publish our reasons for doing so.

Who can challenge?

To make an expression of interest, you need to be:

  • a parish or town Council
  • a voluntary or community group
  • a charity
  • part of a group of two or more Harlow Council employees

Services you can challenge

The Community Right to Challenge applies to all services currently provided by or on behalf of the council. There are some excluded services:

  • a service to a named person with complex individual or social care needs
  • a service which requires the exercise of a statutory power which cannot be delegated (setting Council Tax or determining a planning application)

Examples of services an expression of interest could relate to include:

  • management of parks or playing fields
  • paddling pools
  • refuse or recycling
  • on or off street parking
  • leisure centres

The Community Right to Challenge is only concerned with the provision of services - the responsibility for the function always remains with the council.

Make an expression of interest

We accept expressions of interest between 1 April and 30 June each year. The only exception to this will be if there is an existing contractual obligation in place for a service.

To make an expression of interest, you need to:

We will acknowledge your expression of interest within 30 calendar days of the open period closing.

If the expression of interest form is correctly completed we will notify you of our decision within 60 or 90 calendar days of our acknowledgement - depending on whether the service is already subject to an existing contract or not.

If there is something wrong with the form we will notify you within 14 calendar days of receipt of the form.

There are grounds on which a challenge can be declined. You can find out about these in the statutory guidance.

If an expression of interest is accepted then we will run an open procurement exercise for that service. 

This procurement exercise is open to other organisations, not just the group that originally expressed an interest. 

In the procurement process, we have to consider the positive impact the group’s proposal may have on the community. If the proposal is turned down, we have to publish our reasons for doing so.

More information

You can read more about the Community Right to Challenge on the Government’s My Community Website.

You can contact us for more information.