Dudley is one of seven areas selected to be involved in research as part of national project funded by the government called Inspiring Democracy.
The project focuses on building relationships between citizens, community based organisations and elected members working together to influence local political agendas. In each of the seven areas across England a different look will be taken at aspects of councillor and community organisation/s relationships and objectives.
A focus group for interested members of community groups and organisations in Dudley Borough will be held on the evening of 7 March 2012, venue tba. The focus group will be run by Sue Gorbing from community development specialists changes who have been contracted to deliver this project. Invitations to the focus group will be circulated to community groups over the coming days.
The Inspiring Democracy project will lead to a resource being produced to enable Elected Members and community organisations to think about and enact their roles in a more constructive way. Everyone taking part in the research will be invited to an event on 25 April (likely to be in Birmingham) and have an opportunity to feed back on the draft guidance and input to the final write-up.
The other research areas are: Wolverhampton, Solihull, Shropshire, Preston, Keighley (Bradford) and Wiltshire.
It’s often useful to hear about (and get involved in) things going on in other areas. Isabel Livingstone from South West Forum has provided an excellent write up from an event in the South West: Making Ourselves Heard.
I really like the feedback from discussions about tips for voluntary organisations on influencing the public sector. This one relates to our work in Dudley with Urban Forum on Community Rights:
How do you influence without ‘agressing’? Eg right to challenge is very strong action to take and could cause conflict.
Also included in Isabel’s write up is the following food for thought about the Localism Act:
John Skrine from Creating Excellence gave us a critique of the Localism Act, which in his view holds more threats than opportunities. Read more in his excellent blog post, The Localism Act – Santa or Scrooge. A key point that stood out for me was the example John gave of Exeter Community Centre, which is currently being refurbished after a long process of transferring it to community ownership and management, with the help of grants and a loan from Community Builders. John cautioned that if this had happened after the Localism Act came into force, the community would have had to bid competitively against the private sector for the community centre, and it’s likely that it would have been turned into expensive flats instead.