Embargoed until: 00:01 Friday 28 July, 2017
Community Collaboration is Key to Building Trust in Local Government
New guide showcases success of new approaches to local democratic engagement
A new report out today has found that councils and communities working together can meet the challenges of the future and sustain public trust in local government – but only if they commit to a more engaged and open way of working.
Community Collaboration: A councillor’s guide is the result of a project between the LGiU and Local Trust to define and promote community collaboration and uncover the best examples of it in practice.
The report features 8 case studies from across England, and identifies how councillors can actively support resident-led projects by facilitating conversations, using their network and influence, and advocating within their local authority.
One example is Luton Arches, in Chatham, Kent, where local councillors see their role as helping to build local confidence, provide access to resources and win wider support. Luton Arches is one of 150 Big Local areas with £1m of long-term funding and a programme of training and support helping residents identify what matters most to them, and take action to change things for the better.
Councillors are currently working in difficult circumstances, contending with the impact of several years of budget cuts and the potential upheaval of the local government funding system. Similarly, communities are feeling the strain as the council services they rely upon are hollowed out. Now, more than ever, councillors need to take the bold step of moving decision-making out of town halls and into communities.
To do this, the report suggests, councillors should be prepared to take a backseat in projects, and offer advice and support rather than strong leadership. The Guide outlines the ways in which community collaboration can be a reviving force for local democracy and civic engagement and suggests that residents are the experts in their communities and that they hold the key to solving local problems – and councillors are uniquely placed to unlock that potential. A full copy of the Guide can be found here.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGiU, 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.
LGiU and Local Trust have been working together to find the best examples of this way of working. We have explored how councillors can actively support communities to lead their own projects by facilitating conversations, using their network and influence, and advocating within their local authority. We hope this guide will serve as an inspiration to others looking to involve and empower their citizens in new and exciting ways.”
Matt Leach, Chief Executive, Local Trust, 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.”
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit www.lgiu.org.uk.
Local Trust runs the Big Local programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Big Local is a unique initiative that enables residents in 150 areas around England to make their area an even better place to live. With £1m of long-term funding committed to each area and a programme of training and support, residents of Big Local