The future of Neighbourhood Partnerships

StGNP-logoAs described in our post about the Council Budget and the Corporate Strategy the funding for Neighbourhood Partnerships across Bristol is going to be drastically reduced.

At the Cabinet meeting on Monday (30th Jan) it was confirmed the the cuts had been ‘re-profiled’ so that while the cut of £500k in 2017/18 still goes ahead; the cut to the second half of the budget (£562k) will now be delayed until 2019/20.

St George Neighbourhood Partnership members have already started discussions about how we can ensure that some of the good the work that the St George Neighbourhood Partnership has done over the last few years can be continued. The delay to the second part of the cuts will give us more support from the Council to make this happen, but it still means that the Partnership will effectively cease to function in its current form over the next few months.

We have received the following information about the next steps in the city wide review.

The future of Neighbourhood Partnerships – next steps

Neighbourhood partnerships have given a focal point for decision making, leadership and getting positive things done in neighbourhoods all over the city. This has been made possible because of the dedication of hundreds of Bristol people who care about where they live.

bcc-corporate-strategy-2The City Council is facing significant financial pressures and cannot sustain the level of support we provide to neighbourhood partnerships. We have to find significant savings in the coming years with a £500k (appx 50%) saving in 17/18 (subject to full council approval). We face a real challenge. The City Council wants to be able to continue working with communities across Bristol but we need to do it in a way which requires significantly less city council resources. The Executive Summary of the Corporate Plan describes the challenge we face as a city. Executive Summary Corporate Strategy

Moving forward

Over the coming months we would like to work with you to see if there’s a way of sustaining and may be even building on the experience, knowledge and community action that is so valued by all of us but with less resource from the city council. We understand this is a big-ask and support will be needed.

Our proposal is as follows:

Over the next three months the Neighbourhoods team work with you to explore what could happen in your area. This could include:

a) Using the scheduled NP or forum meetings to explore ideas, make links with groups and activists who may not be involved at present and learn from others about what they do.
b) Developing a full picture of the assets and resources locally and working out if there’s scope to make better use of them.
c) Agreeing the things that are most important for your area.
d) Understanding the risks.
e) Networking event/s to exchange ideas & learn from each other.
f) Advice about organisational governance – do you need a constitution? What sort of organisation would work for you?
g) Drawing up a plan for what needs to happen to get you to where you want to be.
h) Identifying what help and support you need to get there (this might be help with room hire costs for a given period, access to fundraising advice or having the right connection with the city council).

We will use this information to deploy the resources we have as a team but also talk to partners about what help and support they may be able to offer. Our commitment is then to work with you to help you realise that plan as far as we can within the available resources.

As a council we value the connection we have with people right across Bristol. Our aim will be to continue engaging with neighbourhoods or localities. We do not want to dictate how this might work – we are keen to hear your ideas and suggestions. In some areas the existing Neighbourhood Partnership may provide the best foundation for the future. In other areas something different may be needed. We know many of you have already started discussions about what could happen in your area. We understand that this will be easier in some areas than in others and we are committed to providing support to those who most need it.

Devolved budgets

We have some further work to do on CIL, S106 and the neighbourhood budget (wellbeing fund & clean and green) which we will be discussing with councillors in the first instance. The budget for minor highways schemes is proposed as a saving. It is more likely that any available neighbourhood budget is used to tackle inequality (rather than each area having a budget).

There is an even greater need for people to get involved with community life. We want to find a way for communities to be able to get on with the things that matter most. When working with the council we know it takes too long to get things done and to find the right person to talk to. We recognise that in asking citizens to do more we have a responsibility to address this so we can use our collective resources more wisely. As a council we have to get better at listening, collaborating and where appropriate – getting out of the way.

Going forward we are keen to hear your ideas about how we can continue to get things done and continue to have neighbourhood services that work for the area but with far less council resources. The ‘Locality’ event on the 4th February is about this bigger question. This will be followed by an open meeting specifically about the change for neighbourhood partnerships later in February.

Thank you for your continued commitment.

With best wishes,

Penny

Penny Germon

Interim Head of Neighbourhood Management Service

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