Nurturing Community Capacities
In the first phase of Democracy Matters, people told us that communities should be able to move at their own pace, and that they will need tailored support.
The three communities have worked closely with local staff from public sector organisations to agree how to deliver the priorities identified in their action plans. The budgets at their disposal bring with them staff time, skills, knowledge and networks. Increasingly, job profiles within local public sector organisations are changing to more fully reflect community aspirations.
The capabilities and culture of local public sector institutions have been key to new arrangements delivering community expectations. Local public sector workers were supported through a programme of capacity building. This included discussions between councillors and local media to help create space for community experimentation and risk taking. It is acknowledged that some new approaches won’t work as intended but a focus on learning rather than blame drives continuous improvement.
The creation of new decision-making bodies has introduced a new system of democratic local government at community level in places like Christietown, Fernshill, and The Haven. Targeted peer learning and support for new community decision-makers and their staff, based on Scotland’s Community Learning Exchange, has been popular and highly effective. Existing councils are also helping to nurture new arrangements in their area and taking on more of a strategic leadership role. This involves connecting community plans into a wider strategic framework and advising communities on where economies of scale might be achieved.
In parallel, existing councils are taking on new powers which have increased the range of decisions for which they are responsible. A key consideration, when agreeing alternative approaches to how power and resources are shared between national and local government, is how any changes will better enable councils to support ambitious approaches to community governance.
Q14. What types of support might communities need to build capacity, and how could this change the role of councils and public sector organisations?
Q15. Are there specific additional powers and resources which would help public sector organisations to work effectively in partnership with new community decision-making bodies?
Q16. Thank you for considering these questions. When sending us your views, please also tell us about anything else you think is important for us to know at this stage.