We love the places where we live and work. Following on from 2012 and the grand re-opening of Silloth Green after HLF funded modernisation, ‘Silloth Green Day’ will celebrate and showcase everything Silloth has to offer. The event is being organised by Friends of the Green volunteers and will be a fun day out for local families and visitors. This year, the celebration will be held on 26th May from 11.00am – 5.00pm. The long term aim is for the event to be held annually. More information on the Silloth Green Website
I’m now doing some community engagement work in Silloth-on-Solway in Cumbria, site facilitating participation and working with volunteers who put on lots of events on Silloth Green. Cumbria MP Tony Cunningham today raised a motion in Westminster Houses of Parliament to support volunteers and the work they do on Silloth Green.
In her Ted Talk, remedy ‘Coding a better government, viagra ‘ Jennifer Pahlka suggests that apps, thumb built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments — and their neighbors.
She describes what is happening in the USA, but the concepts could apply equally well in the UK. The first example Jennifer gives is where local people “Adopt a Fire Hydrant.’ In winter, people often tend to clear snow from footpaths in front of their houses/businesses, but fire hydrants are often left completely covered in snow. As a result, they often prove difficult to use in event of a fire. A simple app was written to mobilise local people to ‘adopt a fire hydrant’ and ensure it was kept free from snow. Not only did it work…. the app spread virally. The same thing has happened with an ‘adopt a tsunami siren’ app. and several others.
The important point Jennifer makes is that these apps take less time to write and are much less costly than many government ‘projects,’ which can take years to accomplish and then often don’t work. Good ideas can spread virally if they’re open, not smothered by bureaucracy and left free to spread organically; they can lead to wider opportunities for people in different communities to share ideas, take on responsibility and get much more involved in things that affect life in their own communities.
If designed specifically for democratic purpose, digital technology can be very very good at supporting collective action. But, it takes more than technology alone. To change local governance and share power with people, the onus is also on local government to become more like the Internet – freer and more flexible. Officers need to understand how to network.
Among the main measures of the Localism Act are ‘new freedoms and flexibilities for local government’ and ‘new rights and powers’ for communities and individuals.This means there are new opportunities to develop creative approaches to local governance and citizen empowerment leading to increased responsibility for and participation in the things that affect people locally. The challenge is to recognise new potential, alter course and act dufferently.
Watch the video and hear about the ‘Possum App’ and how people can take steps themselves to help strengthen civil society.
Community Planning is meant to get people involved in their own governance, find moving from passive consumers to empowered actors. By engaging people in public policy deliberations and public service delivery, cialis the hope is to increase productivity while reducing costs. The concept of ‘community engagement’ has been around for a long time in other guises, including ‘Parish Plans,’ ‘Urban Regeneration Projects’ and ‘Local Health Checks.’ In theory, ‘community planning’ puts local people in charge of discussing what is important to them. In the first instance, if people in a local area decide they would like to develop a community plan in their local area, they need to put together a steering group of local volunteers to kick start discussions. Stakeholders might include local people and Parish or Town Councillors who want to get involved in the decisions that affect their area or community. Public sector leaders can get involved as catalysts and facilitators of structured discussions in order to resolve public problems. When completed, the community plan sets out a vision of how people want their area to develop over the next five-ten year period. It also proposes actions to make it happen, including:
- things local people can do themselves – eg. setting up a new youth club
- things local people can do with support by others – eg. developing an affordable housing scheme
- things which require a change of higher-level policy or strategy – eg.introducing Neighbourhood Policing
After the community plan is finalised – which could take up to a year or more – progress on actions identified need to be reviewed regularly.
If Parish Councils are focussing on this approach to help local decision-making and guide allocation of precepts and local authorities are depending on input from the ‘community planning’ process to develop strategic plans and service delivery, it is vital for them to ensure that all local people have an equal opportunity to get involved and the loudest voices are not the only ones to be heard. Therefore, many more people in local communities need to gain access to information as well as the tools to get involved.