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Sue Miller, Whitley Bay Big Local


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Report written by Sue Miller, Whitley Bay Big Local, at the Big Local spring event in Newcastle, organised as part of the Local Trust programme of networking and learning events for Big Local …

Report written by Sue Miller, Whitley Bay Big Local, at the Big Local spring event in Newcastle, organised as part of the Local Trust programme of networking and learning events for Big Local residents. The event took place on Tuesday 20 May 2014.

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  • 1. Whitley Bay Big Local: Our Story My name is Sue Miller. I have lived with my family on the outskirts of Whitley Bay for more than 30 years and experienced firsthand some of the physical, economic and social changes the town has gone through during that time. I have been involved with Whitley Bay’s Lottery funded Big Local Project since 2011 and in July 2013 took over as Chair. What follows is offered as food for thought for this fascinating initiative, my perspective and not necessarily that of everyone in the Big Local area. Where is Whitley Bay? Whitley Bay is a coastal town in the North East of England. It is 2 miles north of the River Tyne estuary, 10 miles east of Newcastle and 65 miles south of the Scottish border. In the past Whitley Bay was a ‘magnet attraction’. Good transport links by road and rail brought visitors from the region and beyond into the town. Attractions in and around the beach area made it a popular holiday destination and supported a thriving infrastructure of B and Bs, hotels, shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. What is Whitley Bay like now? A number of factors, including historic changes in British holiday habits, have led to the gradual decline of the town and the neglect of the seafront. The reduction in
  • 2. quality shops, bars and restaurants has resulted in further decline of the area. Unemployment has grown. Fewer and fewer visitors have come to Whitley Bay. As the seafront hotels depend on contractors and workers rather than holidaymakers for their trade the look of the seafront has changed from strolling to parking. Many of the B&Bs now house families and individuals on a temporary basis and there are a number of supported housing projects in the area for individuals who could be described as having specific needs or being vulnerable. What is the Whitley Bay Big Local area?
  • 3. The Big Local area in Whitley Bay has an estimated 2745 residents (1.4% of North Tyneside’s population) living in 1425 dwellings. 20% of residents in the Big Local area are under 18 years old; the same as for the borough of North Tyneside as a whole. 70% of residents are 18 to 64, compared with 63% in the borough. 10% are over 65, compared with 17% in North Tyneside. Whilst overall, people living in the Big Local area are less deprived than the North Tyneside average, part of the area is in the top 10% of the most deprived wards in the country. That area is where most of the B&Bs and rented accommodation are located A part of the Big Local area was ranked as amongst the worst 10% of the country in terms of premature death and the impairment of quality of life by poor health (English Indices of Deprivation 2010). Poor health covers both physical and mental ill health. This does not mean that everyone in the area will be living with poor health but a significant number of local residents will be. For example, just over half (53%) of patients surveyed at Whitley Bay Health Centre last year (2012) describe themselves as having a long standing health condition. Nearly 1 in 5 Big Local residents in the 2011 census said that their day-to-day activities were limited by their health, 9% a lot and 10% a little. Around 8% of residents aged between 16 and 64 were not working due to long term sickness or disability. Four out of ten Big Local residents live on their own, compared with a third of North Tyneside residents. Whereas 14% of single person households in the borough are of people 65 and over, only 8% are such in the area, showing that there is a greater proportion of younger single households than is average for the borough: 32% of the area’s population compared with 20% for the borough. This can be accounted for partly by the amount of privately rented accommodation available to single people who do not want or are unable to buy their own, or because they have split up from a partner. (Whitley Bay Big Local Profile) Why did I get involved in Whitley Bay Big Local? I saw Big Local as an opportunity to bring people together and make a difference to the town. There are things that are great about Whitley Bay and there are things that need improving. There are people and organisations like the Council and the police and trades people and hoteliers accountable for some things that need doing. But there are also things that local people can do to make things better. I saw Big Local as a 10 year project that could encourage people like me to stop moaning and start working together to help the town. I first heard about Big Local in 2011 when I went along to an open meeting held in a public hall in Whitley Bay. At the time I was supporting a young family friend who had grown up and gone to school in the area, to get a local community cinema up and running in the town. Like a lot of people in the room, he and I were wondering if there could be some funding in the Big Local Project that could help to get that cinema established. It became obvious early on that Big Local was not about supporting individual projects and we did not apply for funding for the cinema from the core Big
  • 4. Local grant. We did eventually manage to turn a disused office space in the Big Local area into a ‘proper’ venue and Jam Jar Cinema opened to the public in September 2013. It was just one example-alongside a number of others in the town- of what could be done with vision, strong leadership and when local people and statutory partners worked together. In that sense Jam Jar Cinema was one of a number of projects that reflected some of the features of Big Local in practice, although it was not a facility solely targeted at members of the Big Local community. Why am I writing this story? Everything happens in a context. The introduction of Big Local to Whitley Bay in 2011 took place at a time when the results of the community engagement work that we had undertaken in the development phase of the Project showed that residents felt that the area was neglected. They generally lacked trust in the Council’s regeneration of Whitley Bay. By 2012 the Council was experiencing unprecedented cuts in its resources but in 2013 had been successful in gaining a £3.7 million Heritage Lottery bid for the redevelopment of the Dome: an iconic building in the middle of the Big Local area that had once been the hub of a whole host of popular entertainment. Early in 2014, just as the Big Local Plan was agreed, the Council also succeeded in gaining compulsory purchase orders on 3 of the most rundown buildings on the seafront that had long been the focus of significant irritation to local people. What was perceived as a long standing neglect of the town contrasted strongly with the genuine affection many people still had for Whitey Bay and fond memories of its previous ‘glory days’. There was a sense of it being time to return the town to a place that would appeal to families and with a strong local economy. Big Local arrived in Whitley Bay at a time of ongoing but increasing local and national debate about the impact of cuts. In turn this potentially focused attention on the role of partnerships between the local community and statutory agencies and the place of what has been referred to as ‘localism’. The diagram below seeks to illustrate, just for services for children, the political and policy storm clouds gathering over town halls at the time that the Big Local Project in Whitley Bay was being established, the steady turning off of the flow of financial resources and the rising demand from local people for those services. A growing narrative around potential tensions between a perceived rise in customer
  • 5. expectations and the capacity of the State to meet needs, let alone wants, was exercising politicians of all persuasions. Something, it was increasingly being argued, would have to give. From: Families on the Front Line (2012) Family and Parenting Institute
  • 6. What is ‘localism’ and why is it important for the Whitley Bay Big Local story? It is arguable that ‘localism’ in some form or other will be on the agenda which ever political party or parties take control of national government in 2015. Localism is defined in the OED as the preferring of one’s own area or region especially when it results in a limitation of outlook. In this sense localism is akin to a ‘no such thing as community’ style of NIMBYism. This is a narrow definition. In contrast, the Localism Act of 2011 suggests a far wider scope for localism with the stated intention of devolving power from central government to individuals, communities and local councils. While there has undoubtedly been significant reduction in funding flowing from Whitehall into local councils in the 2 years since the Act was passed, particularly in those areas that have been most heavily reliant on that funding, there has arguably been little evidence of devolution of power away from Whitehall. For other illustrative explorations of what is meant by localism see Appendix 1 which contains extracts from Communities and Local Government: Third report: Localism (May 2011) While each of those illustrations warrants attention in the debate, it is the last in the list: Localism takes resources that particularly drove me to set out some of my learning from the Whitley Bay story. Essentially the town could be viewed as a laboratory to test out some of the current Government’s localism agenda being delivered through a Big Local Project. While Big Local is a potential opportunity for a community to lead change, it feels extremely important to understand the particular set of circumstances that exist in Whitley Bay so as not to make the mistake of thinking that what may happen here would or could be replicated elsewhere. What is Big Local? Big Local’s four outcomes are as follows: 1. Communities will be better able to identify local needs and take action in response to them 2. People will have increased skills and confidence so that they can continue to identify and respond to local needs in the future 3. The community will make a difference to the needs it prioritises 4. People will feel that their area is an even better place to live
  • 7. Big Local is a Lottery funded initiative. A local community in one of 150 identified areas across the country is allocated £1 million over 10 years to create a Project. This is an opportunity for all who live and work in a Big Local area, whatever their age, culture, background, education or skills, to get together with the resources of the extended community and work towards improving their area better. Big Local is not about taking over from the Council. It is about the local community working in partnership with a range of partners, harnessing the resources of the extended community, delivering a Plan and making, in the case of Whitley Bay, the town look better and become a stronger, happier and more creative community. It’s about making the town a place where everyone, whether we live here for a long time, are just passing through, or are visiting, can thrive. The 4 Big Local Outcomes: challenges for implementation 1. Communities will be better able to identify local needs and take action in response to them What have we done in Whitley Bay?  We know from our initial profiling that the extent of ‘social capital’ in the town as a whole is relatively high. Whitley Bay has high achieving, popular schools, a significantly higher proportion of articulate local residents either living in or very close to the Big Local area with good levels of education, a background in the arts, extensive experience of public sector working, small business and community development.  Big Local is only one element of a number of other local organisations and groups of interest within the town that are already and have been for some time working to deliver a range of activities, particularly in areas such as music, cinema, dance, creative arts. Big Local does not need to ‘over manage’ but can support and help to broker conversations and relationships in relation to these, many of which already exist.  Our initial consultations and profiling of the town highlighted that for some there were low levels of expectation and confidence in the Council’s ability to improve the town’s fortunes. At the time, there was not a strong reliance expressed on ‘solutions’ coming from statutory organisations in the identified priorities around improving the look of the place, supporting a sense of community and improving well being and resilience.  Although the Big Local area of Whitley Bay hits a number of indices for deprivation, it is a small pocket surrounded by more affluent neighbours and many of these have either a history with or ongoing interest in visiting the beach area of the town. Good schools, a significant proportion of private housing and the proximity to a beautiful coastline make it an attractive prospect for people to visit and there was a general sense of a growing desire to ‘get something done’ both at resident and Council level.
  • 8.  We have built into our Big Local Plan funded opportunities for creative community engagement activities, network meetings and outreach in order to engage specifically with harder to reach community members and to ensure that we are brokering conversations between stakeholders, partners and providers. We are fortunate in already having a number of such networks within the town so we are not starting these from scratch.  We have committed in the Plan to pay for engagement and training of local people, particularly those that are harder to reach, lack confidence or are isolated, that will build their skills and unlock and enhance their abilities to deliver to this Plan. We recognise that there is a need to draw on every element of expertise that exists within the community already, to build buddying relationships, formal and informal mentoring.  At the time of writing Whitley Bay has received more Star People small grants from Unltd, a grant awarding branch of the Lottery, than any other part of the region. These grants enable individuals to access cash and support to launch their ideas to improve an area. Since we have a small group of award winners now within the town, the successful recipients can be networked together with new potential beneficiaries to help them to develop these ideas, write their bids and deliver their projects. Opportunities to achieve this are being discussed through a local charity working in partnership with Unltd.  Big Local’s marketing strategy includes using the existing local weekly paper that is delivered free to all households in the area to promote what Big Local is all about. This paper is potentially one of a number of useful and low cost ways of building knowledge of Big Local and we have people within the Partnership with skills in writing articles that can be published within it.  We have appointed a Board member who is also Chair of the local Chamber of Trade. He is seeking to ensure that our marketing strategy for Big Local works in synergy with that of local traders so that we maintain a focus on the importance of developing a strong retail economy in the town but do not lose sight of the specific needs of more vulnerable Big Local residents to be able to take their place in this economy.  We have established a skills audit on our website so that individuals can be made aware of and networked together with people in the area with specific skills as needed.  We have established robust and transparent financial procedures and protocols so that we always know that we have the funds to deliver any identified activities. We proactively look for opportunities to work in partnership in order to draw in other funding or in kind resources to tackle elements that are too complex or costly to do ourselves.
  • 9. Challenges for implementation How do areas that do not have such a rich community resource in its residents approach delivering the Big Local Plan without top slicing significant funds from the Grant to create a manager or coordinator to provide the knowledge and skills in community development that are needed? How likely is it that the range of strategic and operational skills and experiences we have drawn on from Board members and the wider Partnership would be present in any employed manager or coordinator? To what extent do the Local Trust locality reps have the capacity to address some of these community development and capacity issues and should that resource be increased? Is there more support that could be offered in the way of examples of finance policies, commissioning approaches, governance that might help local communities with less social capital to develop a robust enough infrastructure to develop and deliver a Plan? Where this support and infrastructure is already in place within the local Council, how could more effective working relationships between the Council and Big Local Partnerships be brokered? How do we ensure that the voices of the powerful do not drown out the voices of the less confident? In Whitley Bay, for example, how does the time devoted to a perceived need for more parking compare with that spent addressing the needs of some of the more vulnerable or temporary residents in the Big Local area? What can be learnt from existing models for such types of working where Council’s or large voluntary organisations act as accountable bodies and enable locality Partnerships to develop delivery eg the delivery of Sure Start Children’s Centres? 2. People will have increased skills and confidence so that they can continue to identify and respond to local needs in the future What have we done in Whitley Bay?  We have committed to support activities and approaches that contribute to the development of sustainable personal and community ‘agency’-the capacity of the community as a whole to act independently and to be empowered to make positive choices for itself. These include an expectation that any activities delivered in Years 1 and 2 of the Plan provide scope for local people to shadow or be mentored by the coordinators ( ‘Primary Contractors’) who will,
  • 10. by and large, be expected to show how to manage and lead delivery of mini projects. Similarly, those delivering actual activities (‘Secondary Contractors’) are asked to provide shadowing and mentoring opportunities to local people so they can help them to develop skills in delivering a range of creative activities  We have committed to brokering opportunities for training in social enterprise, business planning, financial management, marketing and networking to enable those individuals and groups to build economically robust, professional and sustainable businesses and approaches for all such activity. These can be provided through key partners including VODA our Local Trusted Organisation.  We have begun to engage with local schools to try to engage them to identify benefits for their students from the work of Big Local and to explore ways in which they can support the Project as a whole.  We have worked extremely hard to design and model transparent and accessible methods for making decisions about commissioning that have been light touch but thorough and professional.  We have established regular, open communications and ways of reporting on how we deliver to our Plan by publicising regular Partnership meetings, having a website and paper copies of all meetings available and building in a wide range of network opportunities into the delivery of the Plan for different communities of interest.  We have made the entire process of developing and delivering to the Plan as enjoyable, developmental, positive, creative, inclusive and sustainable as possible by including opportunities to meet with other Big Local areas, building in a range of engagement methods, bringing people with shared interests together, brokering relationships between local people and statutory organisations, establishing a skills audit identifying where we have skills gaps and organising opportunities for people to learn from each other and to know where to turn for help. Challenges for implementation How do we ensure that we are sustaining this communication and keeping our knowledge base about the needs of the local community up to date when everyone involved is doing this work voluntarily and alongside other personal and professional commitments? How do we identify the resources to invest in creating capacity in individuals that are a long way from either the labour market or volunteering and lack the necessary skills, confidence or networks to engage with the Big Local Project? A growing use of food banks and credit unions is being reported in the area. How do we deal with the ever changing situation for people living in the Big Local area and the apparent increasing levels of need for basics such as food and accommodation? How do we avoid everything becoming a priority when funding that may have offset
  • 11. some of the issues that are now becoming increasingly problematic is being reduced so rapidly and leading to greater take up of other kinds of support-food banks for example? How do we deal with the disappointment of organisations and individuals that are not successful in tendering for contracts? How do we avoid being perceived as being there to ‘rescue’ vulnerable early intervention work by reactively shoring such activities up with small grants to tide them over pending the outcome of developing other more sustainable income streams? How do we address over reliance on the same volunteers? How do we sustain our credibility as a team of volunteers with statutory organisations that already have significant outcomes of their own to deliver, considerable expertise in doing so but growing pressures on their capacity? 3. The community will make a difference to the needs it prioritises What have we done in Whitley Bay?  We have organised ourselves: We have established and recruited to a Board with 12 places, 8 for local residents and 4 for non residents with additional representation from VODA who are acting as our local trusted organisation and a local Whitley Bay councillor.  We have identified leads for each Theme and for our Marketing strategy on the basis of their skills, experiences and ability to ‘hit the ground running’ with engaging relevant partners and community members  We have written a very extensive Plan based on wide consultation with the local community which sets out our vision and our purpose.  We have corralled the considerable range of ideas that were suggested by the community and given a detailed breakdown of how we will spend the Grant funding in the first 2 years and a general direction of travel for the rest of the duration of the Grant.  We have built our Plan around 3 Themes that were identified by the community and established a process for directing our funding to the delivery of those themes through a series of targeted commissions that local people can deliver  We have committed to a commissioning approach which places heavy emphasis on utilising and developing local expertise within the community  We have established a regular monthly meeting with our key statutory partners-the Police, the Fire service, the Regeneration Team and the Community, Partnership and Involvement Team in the Council.
  • 12.  We are discussing how we can work more effectively together with these statutory partners. We are not top slicing from our Grant to create management capacity, rather we are relying on the skills of the volunteers that we have been able to attract into the Board and wider Partnership. We are therefore potentially able to use the bulk of our Grant funding to match and therefore to draw in additional resources for Year 3 and onwards.  Working from documents that VODA uses we have developed as a Board a full set of governance procedures to help us deliver the Plan-Terms of reference, Finance policies, Commissioning processes, a web page and Facebook account.  We are establishing a marketing and engagement strategy and building this into the core of the Plan so that we can attract local community members into the Project  We have run stalls at Whitley Bay Station as part of the Station Master’s Garden events where we have talked to local people about Big Local and established a database with names and contact details of all Partnership members from those and other contact meetings in order to be able to circulate information.  We have set up a skills audit page on the website where anyone that wants to can register what they can offer to the town-it’s a bit like our own personal Yellow Pages-and anyone can look at that and find out who’s out there.  We are building into our marketing strategy a very clear message about who the Big Local community is and our commitment to inclusivity
  • 13. Challenges for implementation Many of the people that have the strengths and skills in Whitley Bay needed to take forward the Big Local Project have developed them through their day jobs in the public, private or voluntary sectors. The town has a high proportion of individuals with a creative arts background, a number of frontline workers, middle and senior managers or people that have taken early retirement or severance and have time and energy to give to the implementation of the Plan. The sense of public service is strong. Some of these people are able to take on significant volunteering roles because they have less need for paid work. However, these are often also the very people that are undertaking unpaid caring roles and responsibilities either for grandchildren or elderly relatives.  How would this volunteering capacity be created or sustained moving forward if it was not already part of the local community make up?  How do we avoid over reliance on those individuals that already have strong skills and considerable social capital?  How would community capacity be developed in Big Local areas without residents with a similar employment history?  How do we avoid burn out and overcome the challenges of bringing local people and statutory partners into a closer working partnership? 4. People will feel that their area is an even better place to live What have we done in Whitley Bay?  We used some of the money in the Getting Started grant to run a series of workshops at Oxford Street Church in the town for people to come along to. We ran Big Noise: where adults and children and young people came together and learned to do drumming, Big Make: where families with younger children took part in a whole range of creative carnival float and mask making workshops and Big Move: where parents with preschool children took part in dance and music activities.
  • 14.  We have supported the St Nicholas Festival in Whitley Bay in December by providing a range of musical entertainment to enhance the event, including an input from the local drummers that had learnt their skills over the summer in the workshops. That group has so grown in confidence that they were invited and took part in the New Year’s Eve parade in Newcastle
  • 15.  We are specifically focusing in Years 1 and 2 on activities that engage the community in identifying how they would like to improve the look of the place and enable the delivery of some specific activities and networking of people together to provide community engagement events that serve to build relationships and enable people to feel more connected.  We are reinforcing the message that Whitley Bay is fortunate in already having many assets, both natural and from community members who do a considerable amount to help the town already  We are stressing that Whitley Bay should become a place where people tackle long standing so called ‘wicked issues’ –unsolved or hard to resolve issues that refuse to go away-in new, imaginative, collaborative and more sustainable ways.  We are identifying a clear brand identity for Whitley Bay and Big Local so that people can begin to rally behind establishing a different approach to ‘the way we do things around here’ and our collective mission. Challenges for implementation How do we build a sense of active engagement rather than passive acknowledgement in all members of the community, even those that are just ‘passing through’ as temporary residents? How do we know that people feel better about Whitley Bay and see it as a better place to live? How do we measure those changes in perception? How do we sustain our commitment to inclusivity alongside a need to manage the numbers of people with ‘issues’ that pass through Whitley Bay? How do we develop the leadership and resilience in local people to best take hold of the opportunities that Big Local provides for unlocking community potential? How do Big Local areas that have a long history of reliance on the Council invest in community development and broker conversations where communities feel better about themselves and can be enabled to take positive action?
  • 16. Conclusion There’s a lot about Whitley Bay that I love. I love the beach, the schools, the feeling of community, the way you can bump into friends when walking around the streets or promenade, the way you get to know the shopkeepers, local police, bus and taxi drivers and they get to know you. But there are also things that I don’t like about Whitley Bay. I don’t like the way that parts of the town look neglected. I hate walking on the beach on a sunny or a windy day and feeling really uplifted and then turning to face the buildings on the sea front and feeling depressed. Although I’m very happy it’s no longer a place associated with stag and hen nights and just getting drunk, I don’t like seeing the streets completely dead at night. I absolutely hate the fact that there are some young people that live in Whitley Bay on a temporary basis because they have just left care-maybe just for a few weeks or months-that are expected to leave their accommodation during the day with the result that they hang about on the street or in the shopping precinct with little to do. My drivers for being involved with Big Local are probably very similar to those of many others that have got involved. They come from my personal commitment to public service, a desire to put my time and skills to good use by making a positive difference to my community and my wish to contribute to making the town a place where everyone, including my own family, can live well and thrive. I believe that the Big Local Project is an opportunity to do this, but is not without its challenges. If it works, I believe we will not just see a community cinema open, street festivals, tidy gardens and profitable shops, laudable though all of these are. We will see a legacy that is a town where people recognise that we do things differently here, for all, particularly the most vulnerable, being inclusive rather than exclusive and building a community where everyone can live well. If we are going to make the most of the choices Big Local gives us we are well advised to keep talking, thinking and listening to each other. That way, I believe we give ourselves the very best chance to help the area to have a sustainable future that benefits us all.
  • 17. Appendix 1 Extracts from Communities and Local Government: Third report: Localism (May 2011) 4702.htm Localism relates to but is different from decentralisation  I see localism as the ethos if you like, to try to do everything at the most local level. I see decentralisation as the way you do that...therefore localism is the ethos, decentralisation is the process and the outcome is the Big Society.... Not everyone is convinced that the Big Society and other elements of the decentralisation programme sit comfortably alongside each other. Localism is about changing power relationships  I think we’re looking at equalising the power relationship between the citizen and the state, or between public services and the people that use public services, so that citizens are able to become active shapers, rather than just passive recipients, of services. Localism is about putting in place the mechanisms that allow the transfer of power to happen and have meaning in terms of the services that people receive Localism takes time  The UK is not yet a nation of localists... arguably we have had 40 or 50 years of creeping centralization and disengagement...It will take time to reengage people... What has been described as the ‘messy nonsense of democracy’ Localism may give a voice to a powerful few  Care must be taken to ensure that services are not designed according to the needs of the most articulate or confident in society or those with the most ‘social capital’ and resources at their disposal...there is a genuinely held fear, not only amongst councillors but also amongst residents themselves that small groups of activists that have little democratic legitimacy within communities may ‘capture’ local projects and turn them to their own of the biggest dangers is that localism will become the playing field for people that know how to work the system Localism requires democratically elected facilitative leadership  The Council becomes a big set of tools that supports the community doing the things it needs to do...we need people who are more community facilitators and enablers to link people into the support systems they need and also, to some extent, to link the different groups within communities up together. Over time you develop a different set of competencies that councils will need in
  • 18. order to facilitate the community doing the things it needs, and to facilitate them accessing the resources they need to access to make it happen Localism may result in a perception that responsibility for cuts is with local rather than central government  Opinion is divided about whether it is wise to attempt a decisive shift towards a localist system at the same time as public expenditure is being significantly reduced... devolving power in such a way as to make local bodies accountable for the consequences of reduced budgets risked forever associating greater local autonomy and place-based budgets with much increased austerity... a critical window of opportunity has been missed by not putting in place the expertise, institutional capacity and governance frameworks to support integrated decentralisation when public resources were plentiful...propelling localism in an arena of such austerity could be tripping the toddler up before it gets to run. Localism takes resources  I do not think that power comes without money, and transferring power into the hands of the community is going to require some resources to make sure that it goes into everyone’s hands. The need for resources does not end when a group of local people have come together to identify what needs to be done in their area; community plans have to be turned into concrete actions if people are not to be left frustrated  Community enterprises and voluntary sector groups-particularly small ones- will require time, flexibility, support and resources if they are to take on new responsibilities. The Local Government Information Unit told us that local authorities would be fearful that the cost of stimulating the market, of community involvement and supporting it will offset any savings that have been realised through the divestment of services and assets. Especially in neighbourhoods where the voluntary sector is currently under developed the need for capacity building might place a substantial demand on local authorities  The Government must be wary of assuming that decentralisation will reduce public sector costs in the short or medium term. It should not be quick to declare localism a failed experiment if efficiency savings do not instantly materialise. Indeed, the chances of localism transforming the way the country is governed may be hampered at the outset by a lack of resources to pump prime by building local capacity. Localism is a goal worth pursuing no matter what the fiscal circumstances, but realism is needed about how fundamental change will be achieved without resources to support it. See also:
  • 19. Appendix 2 The Whitley Bay Big Local story so far  October 2011 - Big Lottery Fund identified which areas of the country would be targeted for the Big Local initiative and North Tyneside Strategic Partnership identified Whitley Bay as their local authority’s Big Local area .On condition of having an agreed Delivery Plan, developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, signed off by a local Partnership and Local Trust (the parent body for Big Local), this identified part of Whitley Bay was therefore earmarked to receive £1 million of Lottery funding over 10 years  May 2012 – first open meeting held to publicise the initiative led by the Local Trust representative with VODA identified as the local trusted organisation. The role of the Interim Steering Group, an open access group for residents and non-residents with an interest in developing the Big Local work in Whitley Bay, was explained and initial consultations began.  June to November 2012 – Interim Steering Group continued to meet with the support of the Local Trust representative to further develop understanding of how Big Local projects are developed. £22,000 of Getting Started funding was made available to, amongst the other identified priorities, develop a profile of the area to inform the development of a Plan for how the £1 million would be spent. A contract brief was developed for the commissioning process to engage an appropriate organisation to undertake this consultation with the community (particularly those that find services hard to access) and wider stakeholders. This would develop a Profile of the Big Local Whitley Bay area in order to inform the writing of the Delivery Plan.  November 2012 to April 2013 – Terms of Reference and governance model agreed. Trapeze Consultancy appointed to undertake community consultation and develop area Profile. Recruitment to Partnership Board undertaken and Interim Steering Group evolved into Partnership.  April-September 2013 - Partnership Board Meetings established. Policies and procedures for delivering the Plan were written and developed. Summer programme of positive activities (Big Noise, Big Make, Big Move) for Getting Started engagement and communication work developed and delivered to promote wider awareness of Big Local and dialogue with partners and stakeholders. Big Local Whitley Bay Profile produced by Trapeze. Drafting of Plan was undertaken, building on and incorporating outcomes of Trapeze’s consultation process and Profile of area.  September 2013-January 2014- Annual St Nicholas Festival formally supported with music input to augment programme. Draft Plan with indicative budget proposals agreed by the Board, shared and agreed with Partnership and then signed off by Local Trust. Theme Groups established for the 3 key Themes identified through consultations and Big Local marketing and brand identity progressed. Delivery of Plan begins.