Agenda item

Community Committee Review

To receive an update from the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment on the progress of the Community Committee Review.


The Chair reminded colleagues that following the 2023 LGA Peer Review, the Executive Board agreed to carry out a review of Community Committees.


Subsequently, a commitment was made to update The Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities) on the progress of that review and the feedback received through the associated member working group.


It was noted that Cllrs Golton and Anderson represent the Scrutiny Board on the working group.


Those in attendance for this item were:


·  Cllr M Harland (Executive Member)

·  Paul Money (Chief Officer, Safer, Stronger Communities)

·  Liz Jarmin (Head of Locality Partnerships)


Paul Money outlined the background to the development of Community Committees and the progress with the current review. He highlighted the importance of listening to the views of members and the wider communities they represent. He also noted that the review may identify opportunities to standardise some of the ways in which Community Committees are supported in light of limited staffing resources.


Liz Jarmin provided members with an overview of the initial feedback from two member workshops that have taken place, which have focused on workstreams of the Community Committee Champions and Delegated Budgets. She welcomed the level of engagement from elected members and reflected upon the wide range of issues discussed.


Cllr Harland thanked members for their engagement and noted that there has been engagement with the review from a range of political groups and from members representing different geographies.


It was acknowledged that there are some challenging timescales associated with the first stage of the review. A report setting out the initial recommendations of the review will be presented to the Scrutiny Board in March 2024 ahead of consideration by the Executive Board.


Members raised concern about the potential impact of budget reductions on the work of community committees and on the scope of the review. It was agreed that there would be a need to make effective use of all available sources of funding in future, which may include working in partnership to influence the use of funding streams such as elements of the Community Infrastructure Levy where that is available.


Members expressed concern about a lack of public engagement with community committees in some areas of the city and highlighted a need to improve representation.  It was agreed that different approaches may be needed in different communities.


The Scrutiny Board recommended that members attending the upcoming workshop on community engagement and empowerment should explore examples of successful public engagement with a view to developing a ‘toolbox’ to support the members of the committees in this regard.


Members welcomed the opportunity to share experiences and examples of good practice across different committees. It was recommended that the review explores whether there is an appetite for an annual event for members to encourage the sharing of good practice on an ongoing basis.


Other issues raised by members included:


-  Diversity of practice across different committees.

-  Future scope to consider how community committee boundaries may be redrawn with the aim of being more co-terminus with the boundaries of other public bodies such as the health service or West Yorkshire Police.

-  The potential use of a community forum mechanism to improve engagement.

-  Opportunities to bring together parish and city councillors on a more frequent basis.

-  The resource available in the communities team to support the review process.

-  The accessibility of locations used for community committee meetings and the limited ability to webcast from community buildings.

-  Ways in which to reflect a stronger ward-based focus in formal meeting cycles.

-  The various role of different sections of the communities team.

-  The scheduling of working groups and early access to agendas for the member working groups to enable representatives to canvas the wider views of board members.


Liz advised members that wider community consultation will take place in early 2024 but consideration will need to be given as to who is approached and how residents in particular can be effectively engaged in the process.


Cllr Harland concluded by encouraging members to engage with the review over the coming months and reiterated the importance of improving community engagement with the community committees.




The Scrutiny Board noted the content of the report and:


a)  Supported the review of Community Committees and their constitutional role in helping to shape and influence place.


Supporting documents: