Workshop CBuilding successful partnerships Peter Parkes – Worcestershire County Council Ian Fisher – Worcestershire County Council Liz Sheerin – Stourport Forward Community Group
Introduction One size does not fit all Different solutions to meet local needs Stourport scenario typical of many towns Public sector contracting Private sector unsure about investment Town centre in need of regeneration Communities often with greatest needs
Add a few new dimensions Localism (and what does that mean?) A political landscape that can be conflicting The need for a 3rd way of doing things Allowing the community to lead, run and manage services……. And take over some of our buildings
Can you achieve a ‘win-win’ solution?Yes you can….if you Have a united vision The right mix of skills And the right people in the room!
Stourport ‘Live’This project is all about how WFDC, WCC, STCand the CAP helped to empower the localcommunity in Stourport to make the best useof ‘their’ property assets.
Background Information• Stourport, along with many similar rural market towns in the UK, is struggling because of its relative isolation in terms of transport infrastructure and historically low property values.• Stourport has 4 main public facing buildings, but unfortunately these were all built in the 1960s and are now struggling !
How the process began• Wyre Forest District Council will relocate their headquarters from Stourport to a more central location in the District in September 2012• WFDC established the Stourport Facilities Project Board to consider the future of the Stourport Civic Centre after WFDC vacate the site in July 2012 and pledged to provide up to £1 million for provision of Stourport Facilities.• Worcestershire County Council, through the Capital and Asset Partnership, began to look at opportunities for co-location with their public sector partners and a framework for dealing with Community Right to Bid applications.• This caused anxiety in the town and initially led to the formation of protest groups who were looking to save ALL the public sector buildings.
How the process began• The Chair of the WFDC Project Board, also a local Town Councillor, with the support of WCC and WFDC Members helped set up a local Steering Group, as a sub – group of the Stourport Facilities Project Board, to look into what could be done to protect and preserve local services within a more sustainable property solution.• This Steering Group has cross-council, cross-party representation, and also includes partners from the community and business sectors.• This group agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement, that stopped individuals benefiting at the expense of others.
How the process began The formation and ambition of this group attracted interest from the Asset Transfer Unit and Community Builders who subsequently provided initial grant support and agreed to help make Stourport one of five national pilots looking at Multiple Community Asset Transfer.
Process Mapping• A detailed mapping exercise and ”SWOT” analysis was undertaken which revealed the following highlights:• Strengths - one town with one voice (the Steering Group).• Weaknesses – all public sector buildings were built in the1960s. No opportunities in private sector buildings.• Opportunities - strong well established community group (Stourport Forward), strong volunteer base, local commissioning (Positive Activities ).• Threats – current level of public facing buildings unsustainable!
Process Mapping• The Steering Group, with the support of the Asset Transfer Unit, then began a series of public consultation events, which helped show the local community that preserving ‘services’ was actually far more important than just protecting all public buildings!• The idea of community asset transfer was also introduced and gradually former protest groups became supporters and were even heard using the word ‘compromise’!
Where are we now?• We have identified a property solution that will see the redevelopment of one site (two buildings) into a community heart. This site has a community theatre and is at the centre of the town.• This solution is the one the community chose and is also welcomed by the business sector, who see this project as being a vital link to a £7million private sector regeneration of the adjoining town centre and canal basin.
Where are we now?• WFDC has now provisionally agreed to sell the site for £1 to a Holding Body that will be made up of the Town Council, Stourport Forward and a local volunteer theatre group.• Wyre Forest District and Worcestershire County Council are also looking to invest £1.1million of the £1.6 million capital needed to help regenerate this site. It is anticipated that the shortfall will come from private sector investment and/or a small business loan.
Where are we now?• Proposed tenants (Income of £ 52,000 per annum ) • Local charities including Headway • Gym/business incubator units/• Stourport Town Council other types of accommodation• Library (private sector investment).• Coroner • Youth Theatre and Youth Zone• Police • Wyre Forest Community Housing• Job Centre Plus • Wyre Forest Hub• Support Guidance Skills • Café (possibly run in conjunction• Stourport Forward with the Learning Disability• The Civic Theatre Group Service )
Where are we now?• There will be one reception, one staff welfare area ,one set of toilets and one cleaning contract!• This is not however just about bringing services together, this is about everyone supporting each other to drive down costs and help community organisations. The Hub staff, for example, can help the community theatre with marketing and booking arrangements
Lessons Learned• You must, as a Council, try and engage with the community at the earliest possible opportunity and cannot assume that the Local Authority always knows best! It is very difficult to impose an idea on an unwilling community, particularly if you are looking for their support around volunteer led solutions and Community Asset Transfer.
Lessons Learned• You must know your building portfolio in terms of capacity, condition ,DDA compliance and sustainability – and always have up to date property information when presenting to a local audience (they often know about local covenants, recent repairs and boundary disputes as we have discovered with other projects!)• One size does not fit all, as the “SWOT” Analysis will always show.
Lessons Learned• Capital receipts should not always be the driving force behind these reviews. Revenue savings can often be far more significant. WCC’s main building in Stourport is likely to close as a result of this project. At best this building has a capital value of £500,000 but, more importantly, we can potentially save approximately £300,000 per annum in staffing, utility costs and maintenance backlog payments, through relocation to the proposed new community venue.
Lessons Learned• Ideally, you should promote a ‘mixed’ economy of uses to prevent over reliance on one future funding stream and have a combination of professional and voluntary staff.• You need to be innovative around capital funding: * look at the potential of securing commercial sponsorship ( advertising, signage or naming rights ). * look at Community Infrastructure Levy, New Homes Bonus and Section 106 funding opportunities. * look at the potential of local labour helping with refurbishment work and use of apprenticeship schemes, under the direction of a main building contractor.
Lessons Learned• Community Asset Transfer is not easy because local people are often concerned about taking on business loans, public liability, capital taxation, health and safety legislation and EU procurement rules, but this project will hopefully show that when a working partnership of the public, commercial and voluntary sectors comes together with the support of the ATU, then fantastic things can happen.
Lessons Learned• Hopefully as is the case with Stourport local communities will begin to realise that the Local Authority can no longer continue to do everything but at the same time, the Local Authority can not just offload it’s worst buildings and run!• This has to be about a partnership and a new model of property ownership centred on more local responsibility and accountability.
WE WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE YOU WITH 2 QUOTES The first from Baroness Hanham, Parliamentary Under Secretary for State:• “I recently visited Worcestershire myself and had the opportunity to see the excellent progress the Worcestershire Partnership has made with its work on capital assets. Their projects illustrate the value that can be gained by working with other public bodies to bring together the delivery of Public Services.”
WE WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE YOU WITH 2 QUOTES• The second quote is from Ian Bradley, Chair of the Local Community Theatre Group:• “Already, through their involvement with this project, volunteers are facilitating change and shaping better outcomes for the community. Providing a physical ‘heart of the community’ will further empower this community to grew, unite, strengthen and work together to develop the facilities and services that will take them forward into the future.”