Communities influencing change

Localism is about communities being more involved in decisions and getting things done. It is about devolving power and resources to a local level, devolving:

  • power to community led and community run infrastructures
  • consultation – being imaginative about how consultation can work differently and be community led
  • decision making – opening up discussions with the voluntary community sector about how this could happen
  • funding control through participatory budget schemes, asset transfer or locally shaped inspiring initiatives

This is quite a culture change and a challenge to many local authorities.Councillors have a crucial role to play to assist this organisational change.

If you have good connections and relationships with community groups in your area and bring them together to share ideas and issues, you will have an overview about wider community issues and assets. You will feel confident to articulate the outcomes necessary in your constituency, explore how these could be realised through different mechanisms and, think about impact evaluation – what’s working and why?

Suggestions:

  • provide opportunities for communities to have their say
  • make sure that different voices within the community are heard
  • ensure community voices are heard when there are approaches from national or service providers
  • offer routes for communities to get to the people they need to speak to in order to influence policy
  • develop, promote and applaud opportunities for communities to scrutinise processes and decisions
  • encourage people to acquire scrutiny skills and create opportunities for people to scrutinise
  • question if the Council is delivering what people actually want
  • know and be transparent about how much money ‘goes local’
  • rebrand the relationship between local governance and communities – including Parish Councils
  • promote links between the voluntary & community sector, council officers and councillor colleagues
  • work with voluntary & community sector organisations to negotiate and communicate respective roles and responsibilities
  • champion asset sharing: pooling of assets, community groups and voluntary sector organisations using council premises
  • work with communities and council to champion collaboration on projects, funding proposals, refreshing or renewing services

It’s got to be about: refreshing, invigorating and implementing the local Compact

  • Changing relationships
  • Changing the way we do things
  • Giving up some power
  • Taking risks and having a go
  • Seeing an opportunity
  • Facilitating conversations

Now let’s go for a reality check

One comment on “Communities influencing change

  1. Appreciative Scrutiny is an approach which can facilitate councillors and community members working together for different purposes. This guide (http://cfps.org.uk/publications?item=7145&offset=0) published by the Centre for Public Scrutiny reports that appreciative scrutiny has been successful in engaging people and bringing them together, facilitating councillors to work alongside stakeholders and the community. In South Ribble value that the approach added was around councillors increasing their knowledge of the community and the council’s own assets within the community – enhancing their ward councillor role.

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