William Eichler 28 July 2017

Councillors should take ‘backseat’ to encourage community collaboration, report says

Councillors should take ‘backseat’ to encourage community collaboration, report says image

Councillors should learn to take a ‘backseat’ in local projects in order to encourage community collaboration and build trust in local government, report says.

The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and Local Trust have published a report which seeks to define and promote community collaboration, as well as publicise some best examples of it in practice.

The report features eight case studies, and identifies how councillors can support resident-led projects by facilitating conversations, using their network and influence, and advocating within their local authority.

Importantly, according to Community Collaboration: A councillor’s guide, this means councillors must be prepared to step back from local projects and offer advice and support rather than strong leadership.

One example the report identifies is in Luton Arches, Chatham, Kent. Luton Arches is one of 150 Big Local areas with £1m of long-term funding from the Big Lottery Fund for improving their community.

The project is resident-led, but Cllr Vince Maple of Medway Council used his position within the council to provide the group with the confidence, resources and knowledge they needed to get started.

With his support, the Big Local group put in three bids for a Pocket Park project (including one to DCLG) and won all three.

The group built the parks; and residents, who were sceptical at first, believing the park would just be vandalised, volunteered to maintain it because, as the report argues, ‘they felt ownership of the space in a way that they may not have if it had been a council-run space.’

Commenting on the report, Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU chief executive, said: ‘An essential component of local democracy is building strong connections between citizens and the institutions that represent them.

‘By including residents in the conversations that affect their lives, local government builds trust and mutual respect. This has never been more important.

‘At a time when trust in public institutions is at a low ebb, councils have a vital role to play in restating and rebuilding the social contract between citizens and their governments.’

Matt Leach, Local Trust chief executive, said: ‘At Local Trust, we’ve been delighted to partner with LGiU in inviting local government leaders to explore how to put more power in the hands of communities.

‘Our experience of running Big Local, the largest current place-based investment programme in England, means that it’s a conversation we’re passionate about.

‘We see this report as being a key tool for Big Local areas and local authorities looking to collaborate positively to deliver great outcomes for their communities.’

For more on Big Local read our feature, Empowering local ambassadors.

Cyber crisis management image

Cyber crisis management

Richard Stephenson outlines cybersecurity issues to be aware of during the pandemic and how to minimize risk.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Principal Flood Risk Officer

Lancashire County Council
We have an exciting opportunity for a Principal Floor Risk Officer Lancashire
Recuriter: Lancashire County Council

Duke of Edinburgh Youth Support Worker

Essex County Council
£14597.0 - £19106.0 per month
Please note this is a part time contract - annualised hours 106 per year. Therefore the actual salary range is from £995.44 up to £1049.79 per annum. England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Head of Internal Audit

Kent County Council
Up to £97,000 + benefits
We now have an exciting opportunity to strengthen and shape our Audit function, as... Maidstone, Kent
Recuriter: Kent County Council

Director of Children’s Services

St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council
circa £120,000
This is an exceptional opportunity for someone who wants to make a real difference to the children, young people and families of our Borough. St Helens, Merseyside
Recuriter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Assistant Director, Social Care & Public Health Commissioning

Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council
c£71,000 to £89,000 per annum
Reporting to the Director of Strategic Commissioning you will lead Commissioning in the context of a developing Integrated Care System.  Bolton, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue