Posted tagged ‘community’

An engaging conversation

June 21, 2012

Our week of local government introspection continues with part four today, and as yesterdays post seemed at first to be similar to one earlier in the week, so today’s touches on yet remains separate to another post, namely that around digital engagement and innovation.  Before exploring this link let’s start at the basics.

Starter for ten: What is engagement and why bother with it?  A pair of very simple questions perhaps but worth asking.  Engagement in relation to local government centres around how we involve local people in the planning, running and evaluation of our services, and comes in a number of forms and methods.  Popular engagement techniques include surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, workshops and interviews, but can also be as creative as World Cafes, PinPoint, Open Space facilitation or Planning for Real.

As for why, well if you have to ask this then perhaps you’ve not been around local government for too long.  The business case is fairly simple: firstly we are told we have to, secondly it helps us builds a two-way relationship with residents and thirdly good engagement actually opens up a huge world of knowledge which we otherwise may not find out about.

We’ve often remarked that you should never throw away your drainpipe trousers as sooner or later they will come back into fashion, and so it seems to be the case with approaches to community engagement.  There is no one single way of doing this, and so successive governments have tried various ways to encourage or force local authorities and residents to engage with each other.   (more…)

Between a rock and an asphalt hard place

September 20, 2011

Going and getting nowhere very fast

For those of you who have missed the news recently, Basildon BC are facing a bit of a tough time from just about every angle as they start the process of physically evicting around 400 travellers from their current site this week.  Originally they had planned to send the bailiffs in first thing on Monday morning, although a late court injunction was granted to put this back until at least Friday, and then possibly longer after that.

This is the beginning of the end to a process which began a decade ago, when the Council began trying to move a then-smaller group of travellers on from the site but were unsuccessful.  It is difficult to pick some of the facts from the story without coming across as biased towards one viewpoint or another, and not being immersed in the situation we don’t want to say whether one is in fact right or wrong, but it’s worth for a second reflecting on the challenges the Council faces here.

In the first place, they are being pressurised by local people to move this group on.  According to their consultation findings, they claim an overwhelming majority of local people want them to take the action that they are now trying to push through, with few arguing for the opposite.  If they stood aside and allowed the traveller community to stay on their site then they would be going against the wishes of the pre-existing local community.  This of course assumes that good practice principles were followed when undertaking this consultation, but we have to believe that if they hadn’t been then they would have not got as far as they have to date.

They also have many years of planning law and regulations to consider.  Over the years, countless buildings and developments will have been proposed to the planning department for a huge variety of structures and potential communities.  Some will have been successful, others will have fallen foul and not been allowed.  By the looks of things, the travellers have developed the site they are on without going through these processes and/or abiding by the findings of the planning department, carrying on with their own plans regardless. (more…)

On the seventh day of Christmas our bloggers gave to me

December 29, 2010

A cartoon depicting Local Government from Australia; seems familiar though right!

Is it this complicated the world over?

Going out on a cold night

December 7, 2010

A gold plated forum

One of the fun things about having more people read this blog and in turn follow our twitter is that we now have some ‘official’ council followers. Included in this group are @SouthamptonCC, @Copelandbc, @BraintreeDC and @Merton_Council.

In return we have ‘followed’ some of these council’s twitter accounts and even been impressed with their tweets.

An interesting one came through from Merton a few weeks back which I thought deserves some comment. The tweet is rather inelegantly pasted (my bad) below:

Merton Council (@Merton_Council) 26/11/2010 10:51

Want to get involved with local decisions? Why not come along to Merton’s community forums next week. http://tiny.cc/ydslm

At first glance it would be hard not to be impressed with this tweet. Merton Council (which is in London) are trying hard to engage local residents in their decision making process; this is something the doyens of the Big Society would celebrate and something that I, as a Local Government Officer, 100% welcome.

(more…)


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