William Eichler 06 July 2016

Empowering communities builds ‘trust’ but not answer to austerity

Empowering communities builds ‘trust’ but not answer to austerity image

In the face of ‘massive austerity’ devolving power to local communities can give them a sense of ‘pride’, but cannot solve fundamental problems, according to an LGA panel on devolution.

The panel, a part of the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth, looked at the question, ‘Is devolving power to communities the answer to austerity?’ The speakers concluded in the negative but emphasised the importance of empowering communities.

Organised by the charity Local Trust, the discussion between the panellists Cllr Simon Blackburn (Blackpool Borough Council) and Sue Miller (Whitley Bay Big Local) stressed the sense of alienation from government - local and national - in many communities.

Cllr Blackburn warned people are ‘confused’ by politics today, particularly because of the confusion in Westminster in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, and said they are ‘deeply sceptical’ about the ability of government to fix the problems communities are facing.

Projects such as the Local Trust’s Big Local, which provides community-based groups with £1m over a 10 year period to help change their areas, give individuals ‘a sense of purpose and community’ but do not ‘fundamentally change anything’, Cllr Blackburn said.

‘The answer to austerity is not having austerity,’ he added.

Sue Miller, a Big Local volunteer in Whitley Bay, agreed with the councillor. She emphasised community projects are not the answer to all the problems faced by local areas, but said they play an important role in ‘building trust and a sense of team’ within communities.

For more on Big Local see our feature, Empowering Local Ambassadors.

Read out feature on empowering local ambassadors where we meet with the campaigners who are being empowered to take resident-led action to improve their local communities.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Senior Project Manager

Leicestershire County Council
Up to £50,823 per annum
The role of this post is to oversee the project management, development and implementation of the County Council’s Major Transport Projects.. Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Programme and Change Delivery Manager (Spatial Planning and Urban Design)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£43,833 - £53,115 Depending on skills and experience
Are you a change delivery manager with expertise in England’s local government spatial planning and urban design sector? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Early Years Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£26,544 - £30,618 per annum pro rata
This is a diverse area and we have high aspirations for all our children, starting with... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Programme Manager - Association of Directors of Children’s Services

City of York Council
£50,000 to £60,000 pa
This role will help to shape an annual SLI work plan and variously oversee, facilitate, commission or directly deliver and... York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

School Wellbeing Worker

City of York Council
£27,614 to £30,602 per annum
The role will involve providing schools with consultation and advice, training, direct work in... York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York 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