Agenda item

Community Building in Gloucester

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods that outlines plans for the medium and long-term delivery of community building activities in Gloucester.

Minutes:

120.1              Councillor Jennie Watkins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, introduced the report and welcomed the Chief Executive Officer of Barnwood Trust and Chief Inspector Of Gloucestershire Constabulary to the meeting.

 

120.2              Councillor Watkins explained the Council’s journey to and through Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) which Barnwood Trust was leading. She stated that ABCD involved bringing about a cultural shift in how communities and agencies interact.

 

120.3              The Chief Inspector gave a presentation and provided an overview of research conducted. He cited that Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) had decreased and that ABCD had a role to play in achieving such outcomes.

 

120.4              The Corporate Director thanked the Barnwood Trust for their thought leadership, support as well as training and mentoring. She also stated that the establishment of a community interest company was under consideration and presented an outline of a ten year budget.

 

120.5              Councillor Pullen stated that he saw the value in potentially pooling resources for community building. He noted that numerous community organisations were struggling with gaining grant funding and questioned whether it would be preferable to directly support already existing groups. Councillor Pullen also asked what outcomes were being attempted and what a healthy community looked like.

 

120.6              Councillor Watkins stated that outcomes were not necessarily linked to what organisation support came from and that outcomes involved community activity and not simply services. The Corporate Director explained that the Council’s contribution would be £15k per annum and that staffing would be generated by partnerships. She further stated that it would give good opportunities for fundraising and secondments from Barnwood Trust and the County Council. She advised Members that if fundraising proved to not be possible, the company would not be set up.

 

120.7              Councillor Ryall welcomed Members’ suggestion of a Member Development session to explore ABCD and Community Building in more depth. She questioned the worth of the evaluation of this form of Community Building being conducted by the agencies that were carrying out the work. The Chief Executive of the Barnwood Trust agreed but highlighted that it was a matter of making the most of resources and that there were always difficulties in assessing impact.

 

120.8              The Chief Inspector, in response to a query from Councillor Finnegan questioning whether the police had taken on too much, stated that such a community building approach was a positive way of working and built trust and intelligence in neighbourhoods.

 

120.9              Councillor Haigh stated that ABCD worked best when communities did it themselves. She further stated that communities would like previous funding levels to be returned by way of grants to fund services they required.

 

120.10            Councillor Watkins highlighted that it was important to change relationships and how the Council worked with communities.  She advised Members that a number of organisations had changed and employed community builders.

 

120.11            The Chair stated that community organisations were still competing for money from the same pool of money and that the approach had the appearance being ‘to-down’.

 

120.12            Councillor Lewis informed Members that there was a good community in Quedgeley and that funding was not necessary if the community was willing to do it itself. He stated that it was important to consult the community on what it wanted. Councillor Watkins advised that the proposals were to expand on work that had already been undertaken.

 

120.13            In response to a query from Councillor Toleman as to the definition of Asset Based, Councillor Watkins advised that it was to take a strength rather than deficit based approach and investigate what communities valued.

 

120.14            Councillor Hilton stated that a community builder had struggled in Kingsholm and that residents tended to approach ward councillors. He shared his view that provision for services was need by way of community grants.

 

120.15            The Chief Inspector advised that, when the research was first undertaken, it was of the utmost importance that if the research showed nothing, the project would cease. He advised that conclusions should be based on research rather than anecdotal evidence. Councillor Watkins stated that issues had been resolved by community builders.

 

120.16            Councillor Hampson shared his view that all good social enterprises came from the bottom upwards such as the Gloucester Park Run which was initiated by two individuals. He stated that he was unsure if the approach outlined in the report was the most effective and efficient way of doing such work. He queried whether it might be preferable to give grants so that funds were not swallowed up by other operational costs. The Corporate Director stated that it was a matter of how resources could be pooled rather that what the Council could spend.

 

120.17            Councillor Haigh proposed the following recommendation: “That a piece of work be undertaken similar to that done by Exeter or Wigan (whose schemes are noted in the report) on what input the community can have on community building.” The recommendation was put to the vote and was carried.

 

120.18            Councillor Lewis proposed the following recommendation: “To organise a Member Development session to explore Asset Based Community Development and Community Building more fully and that endeavours are made for it to include all Members.” The recommendation was put to the vote and was carried.

 

120.19            RESOLVED that: - The Overview and Scrutiny note the report subject to the following recommendations: The Overview and Scrutiny Committee RECOMMEND (1) A piece of work be undertaken similar to that done by Exeter or Wigan (whose schemes are noted in the report) on what input the community can have on community building and (2) Organise a Member Development session to explore Asset Based Community Development and Community Building more fully and that endeavours are made for it to include all Members.

Supporting documents:

 

 
 
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