Putting communities at the heart of what we do
Posted on: 8 June 2012
Across Devon’s towns and villages there is a long tradition of self-help coupled with a strong community spirit. From helping manage the village hall to tending the village
green to running a sports team or organising a coffee morning for mums, to fundraising to build a children’s playground, there are hundreds of examples of people giving their time to improve the place where they live.
Here at Devon County Council we have long tried to build on this strength by helping local people to identify local issues and plan for the future. We have also tried to support community and voluntary groups with grants and create an independent support network by funding things like Volunteer Bureau, Council for Voluntary Service and Citizen Advice Bureau.
Many of Devon’s communities are already demonstrating how they are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities more power, influence and resources could open up.
Local solutions to local problems
The Council has also worked with communities directly through schemes like the Parish Path Partnership and the Snow Warden Scheme to help communities to work together to help themselves.
Now we are exploring new ways to back local people, give them more influence and control over their local services and to find local solutions to local problems.
Dawlish and Lynton & Lynmouth are among the first communities in the country to pioneer the Government’s new Neighbourhood Planning system, which gives residents radical new powers to help them shape the future of their town. Groups of local representatives, community groups and councillors have come together in partnership to identify what new homes, jobs and facilities they need, where they should go and what
they should look like, as well as plan important infrastructure to meet their future needs.
Community groups across the County are bidding to buy public-owned buildings that they believe play vital roles in their local lives. The Council is offering groups time to develop bids, and raise money to buy the property.
In Ilfracombe, projects such as the Government’s new ‘Neighbourhood level Community Budgets’ are showing how new and closer ways of working can help communities to become stronger and more self-reliant. The town has been chosen by the Government as one of just ten communities to pilot the new scheme, designed to give people more power over their local public services. Communities benefit because they get the services they need by focusing resources where they want them, but at the same time it reduces duplication and can save money by ensuring everyone works together in a focussed and
Kick-starting local projects
More than ever before the Council is doing what it can to support local community action and kick-start local projects. £2.8 million has been made available to support local initiatives, via their local County Councillor, with further funding available to community groups to improve local buildings such as village halls and community centres.
This year, it’s also giving £1.8 million to voluntary organisations, to bring about real improvements in villages and towns, and devolving meaningful decision-making powers and resources to local groups so that they find solutions to their local needs.
We have a long track record and plenty of experience of backing local people and supporting our communities, but we are determined to go further and help Devon’s
communities to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer to take greater control and help and support themselves.