Agenda item

Community Committee Review

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


Those in attendance for this item were:


·  James Rogers (Director Communities, Housing & Environment)

·  Paul Money (Chief Officer Safer, Stronger Communities)

·  Rachel Marshall (Localities Programme Manager)


Paul Money introduced this item, noting that Cllr Harland had asked him to thank members for their engagement with this review.


Paul provided an overview of the key themes of the review and the proposed timeline for progressing various aspects of the associated programme of work. He noted that progress would be informed by the outcome of work carried out by three task and finish groups, involving both officers and elected members.


The Scrutiny Board was updated about the outcome of three member workshops that took place during 2023/24. Those workshops focused on Community Committee Champions, Delegated Budgets and Community Engagement and Empowerment. Members were informed that a further recent workshop addressed delegated functions. The outcomes from that session are still being analysed. 


The Board noted that the review is moving into a secondary phase focused on the implementation of initial recommendations. However, wider work will be ongoing through 2024 and 2025.


Members welcomed the debate about the role of community committee champions. It was recommended that consideration is given to introducing both a new induction programme for champions and an enhanced training offer. Paul Money and Rachel Marshall confirmed that these issues are being explored.


Members advocated the use of technological solutions to enable meetings to be live streamed from community settings. Paul confirmed this is being explored with colleagues from IDS.


Community engagement was identified as a priority and a challenge for some community committees. The Scrutiny Board considered how meetings are advertised and how residents can be encouraged to attend. It was noted that the perceived formality of meetings, and limited opportunities for the public to interact with Board members on matters of interest, can be a barrier to public attendance. 


The Scrutiny Board recognised the diversity of communities represented by community committees and agreed that taking ‘one size fits all’ approach would not be appropriate. However, members proposed that the sharing of best practice could strengthen local arrangements. Paul confirmed that members will be consulted on what works well in their areas and what might therefore be transferable good practice.


Members queried whether formal matters such as the approval of grant funding could be streamlined to allow more time within meetings for the discussion of issues identified as priorities by residents. Rachel noted that some committees have ‘pre meetings’ to consider issues relating to financial approvals so as to be more efficient in public meetings.


Clarity was sought as to whether corporate communication resources could be used to support enhanced publicity around community committee meetings.


The engagement of elected members to date was welcomed. Officers were asked how the lived experience of residents could also be captured to ensure community committees are designed to effectively respond to local priorities.


Members were also assured that officers from the communities’ team work with lots of people who are very active in their communities, despite them not necessarily attending community committee meetings.


The Scrutiny Board advocated more effective interaction between community committees and the third sector, particularly where community anchors are in place.


It was noted that an introduction to the community anchors network would be useful for new members. Rachell suggested that this could be considered at a future Community Committee Chairs Forum with a view to scheduling introductions for members.


Members explored the challenge of engaging with ‘hard to reach’ communities including those who are new to the city and/or have English as a second language.


Members sought clarity about the offer for council officers in relation to ABCD training. Rachel confirmed that she is exploring the current offer for services to identify where there may be gaps in the provision.


11.04 Cllr Akhtar left the meeting




Members noted the report and


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


b)  Provided their endorsement of the recommendations and accompanying work programme, as set out in appendix 1.


c)  Requested that further updates are provided in 2024/25 in line with proposed timelines in appendix 2.

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