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Promoting sustainablecommunities1(1)

  1. 1. 2008 ISSN: 2041- 6741 Promoting Sustainable Communities Vol 1, 1 Understanding Town and Parish Council Needs for a Sustainable Devon Interim Report By Gregory Borne
  2. 2. Understanding Town and Parish Council Needs for a Sustainable Devon Interim Report November 2008ByGregory Borne 2
  3. 3. ContentsAcknowledgements 5Executive Summary 6Introduction 8Background to Research 8Aims 8Methodology 9Preliminary Results 10Demographic Information 10Training and Education 17Access to Training 19Community 21Mechanisms for Achieving Sustainable Communities 23Partnership 23Responding to Risk 25Solutions for the Future 28Conclusion 30Future Directions 31References 32Index of FiguresFigure 1: Gender 10Figure 2: Age 11Figure 3: Occupation 11Figure 4: Education 12Figure 5: Role in parish/town 12Figure 6: Motivation 13Figure 7: Effect on parish/town 13Figure 8: Awareness of role within parish/town council 14Figure 9: Continue to be a member of the parish/town council in the future 14Figure 10: Residence in parish/town 15Figure 11: Settlement type 15Figure 12: Priority issues 16Figure 13: Education and training needs 17Figure 14: Willing to participate in training 17Figure 15: Require special skills 18Figure 16: Primary skills 18Figure 17: Fund own training 19Figure 18: Travel for training 20Figure 19: Distance to training 20Figure 20: Training delivery 21Figure 21: Community 22Figure 22: Community focus 22Figure 23: Community area 23Figure 24: Work in partnership 23Figure 25: Partners 24Figure 26: Awareness of sustainability mechanisms 25Figure 27: Awareness of sustainable development related issues 26Figure 28: Heard of global warming? 27 3
  4. 4. Figure 29: Parishes carbon footprint 27Figure 30: Causes of global warming 28Figure 31: Heard of sustainable development? 29Figure 32: Basic elements of sustainable development 29Figure 33: What is sustainable development? 30 4
  5. 5. AcknowledgementsThe author of the interim report ‘Understanding Town and Parish Needs for aSustainable Devon’ would like to acknowledge the contribution of the followingpeople; the research team including Ian Sherriff, Helen May and RuthWatkins. Thanks also to Lesley Smith; Chair of the Devon Association ofLocal Parishes for her co-operation and also to councillors and staff of themany parish/town councils who took the time to participate in the research;without their co-operation this work could not have taken place. Finally,thanks to the South West Lifelong Learning Network (SWLLN) forcommissioning the work, particularly SWLLN Director Belinda Payne andCurriculum Development and Vocational Practice Development Unit (CDVPU)Strand Leader Nick Wiseman. 5
  6. 6. Executive SummaryThis research aims to understand the education and training needs for parishand town councils in the context of achieving sustainable communities. Thereis a particular focus within the research on understanding these needs, notjust now but also in the future. As such, the following outlines the mainpreliminary findings of the research. Results are presented in this report inthe context of ‘work in progress’, final results, conclusions andrecommendations are subject to the collection and analysis of all data.Subsequent in-depth research is currently underway in order to gain a greaterunderstanding of the following findings:Key Messages • Based on the initial results there is an overwhelming feeling among members of parish and town councils that additional training and education is needed. • Findings indicate that the nature of this education and training is diverse, but that members of parish and town councils feel that there are special skill sets needed to operate effectively within their parish. • Existing training and education are not able to meet the current issues confronting local communities. • Members of parish/town councils would be willing to travel outside of their parish area in order to receive additional training and education • There is an overwhelming feeling that there is a need to encourage sustainable communities ‘but’ there is confusion over the action that should be taken. • Following on from the above finding, whilst there is a high level of consensus that achieving sustainable communities is important there is confusion as to what sustainable communities and sustainable development more generally entail. • There is a general lack of awareness of the existing mechanisms that could be employed in the local governance process that could contribute towards the creation of sustainable communities. • Partnership is essential for the effective running of town and parish councils and the development of sustainable communities. • There is concern over the effect of global risks such as global warming upon local communities, but there is need for further and effective communication of these issues. This is particularly the case between the national and local levels of government 6
  7. 7. • In order for the development of policies that will enhance sustainability at the community level, there needs to be a clear synergy between the national, regional and local areas. 7
  8. 8. Understanding Town and Parish Needs for a Sustainable Devon IntroductionThis report will outline the main interim findings of recent research conductedon behalf of the South West Lifelong Learning Network into the training andeducational needs for Devon parishes/town councils in order to createsustainable communities. At this stage only a brief analysis of the data isoffered. Upon conclusion of the data collection stage of this work a fullanalysis with associated recommendations will be available. This report isorganised in the following manner. Initially, a brief background to the researchwill be provided, this will be followed by outlining the specific aims of theproject. Next, the methodology used in collecting the data will be brieflydiscussed followed by the main findings of the survey. Conclusions willreiterate the findings presented in the executive summary and also outlineaction for the future.Background to the ResearchRapid changes facilitated by processes of globalisation are fundamentallyaltering governance structures worldwide (Beck 1999, 2006; Borne 2009a).These processes are having profound effects on organisational structuresfrom the United Nations through to more localised public sector organisations.Recent British Government reports (Leitch 2006; Lyons 2004; Stern 2007) aswell as more overarching governmental policy documents (CALG 2008;DCLG 2006; HEFCE 2005; HMGOV 2005; ODPM 2003) are beginning totranslate these rapidly altering global processes into concrete politicalimperatives. The changing context from within which public sectororganisations need to operate directly affect the types of skills, educationalneeds and general competencies that are required to operate successfullyand efficiently.Recognising the potential skills gap, the South West Lifelong LearningNetwork has commissioned this project to create a resource upon whichmembers of parish and town councils can enhance their skills base in order torespond to the aforementioned challenges.AimsThe ultimate goal of this research is to provide the necessary base lineinformation which can contribute to the development of effective andresponsive training/education necessary to create sustainable communities.The idea of sustainable communities has become an important topic at alllevels of government. It is a broadly defined idea that has formed under theumbrella of the broader concept of sustainable development. The WorldCommission on Environment and Development in 1987 defined sustainabledevelopment as: ‘Development that meets the needs of the present withoutcompromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ 8
  9. 9. (WCED 1987:8). This definition represents the foundation for anunderstanding of sustainable communities. Within Great Britain the idea ofdeveloping sustainable communities was most comprehensively addressed inthe Egan Review.The Egan Review (2003) commissioned by the then Office of the DeputyPrime Minister (ODPM) defines sustainable communities as communities that:‘…Meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, their children andother users, contribute to a high quality of life and provide opportunity andchoice. They achieve this in ways that make effective use of naturalresources, enhance the environment and promote social cohesion andinclusion and strengthen economic prosperity’ (Egan 2003:7).The review outlines the essential role that local authorities play in creatingsustainable communities, and local authority sustainable community plans areidentified as a positive outcome of this process. Whilst the review is primarilyconcerned with up-skilling professional workers, the importance of access to,and delivery of skills across communities is also seen to be of vitalimportance. Parish/town councils are the closest level of government to theircommunities and are therefore in a unique position to provide leadership andadvice on achieving sustainable communities. This project therefore aims tounderstand not only what skills members of parish/town council’s feel theyneed in order to create a sustainable community but also what members ofparish/town councils feel constitutes community itself.Ultimately, this project aims to provide a foundation upon which training andeducation can be developed through the extensive resource base of theSouth West Lifelong Learning Network directly accessible by the closest levelof government to the community, parish and town councils.MethodologyIn order to achieve the above mentioned goals, the research is beingconducted using a sophisticated multi-methodological framework,incorporating both primary and secondary evidence as well as qualitative andquantitative data collection techniques. An initial search of the availableliterature covered areas of theory (Beck 2006; Borne 2009a, 2009b), policy(Coulson 1999; Davies 2008; Pearce and Ellwood 2002), practice andimplementation (Borne 2009c; Charnock 2007; Godfrey 2007; Fenwick andBailey 2007; Jones and Newman 2006; Owen 2002; Newman 2005; Toke2005; Yarwood 2002). Particular attention was paid to current policydocuments and the changing ways in which parish/town councils areexpected to operate. This report presents results from the quantitativecomponent of the research which took the form of a survey.The survey was dispatched to all Devon town and parish councils (wherecontact details were available) in two mailings. Basic data and contactinformation was provided by the Devon Association of Local Councils (DALC)which formed the basis of the first mailing. Further information acquired fromthe DALC website provided the relevant information for the second posting. 9
  10. 10. The research is being conducted in two phases. Phase One is based aroundthe aforementioned quantitative survey. Phase Two of the research willinvolve conducting in-depth interviews with members of parish and towncouncils. The combination of qualitative and quantitative methods will providea substantial and robust information source to assist in the development ofsustainable communities.Preliminary ResultsWhilst at this stage it is too early to ascertain accurate response rates, basedon the volume of returns, it is confidently estimated that over 60 per cent ofthe parish/town councils that have received questionnaires have responded tothe survey, with this figure expected to rise. Based on the research to date,the following will present some preliminary results of the most significantfindings. The results are ordered in the following manner. Initially, the basicdemographic information of respondents, as well as the relationship thatrespondents have to their parish is presented. This is followed with apresentation of results relating directly to education and training. The nextsection examines the idea of community, particularly those elements of thesurvey that relate directly to achieving a sustainable community. This isfollowed by exploring how members of town and parish councils feel aboutincreasing global and local risks such as global warming. The final sectionexamines how respondents feel about overarching ideas for addressing theseissues, with a focus on sustainable development.Demographic InformationFigure 1: GenderFigure 1 indicates the gender distribution in the overall sample. There areproportionally more male members, 60 per cent of parish councils, than thereare female councillors at 40 per cent. 10
  11. 11. Figure 2: AgeFigure 2 displays the age distribution of the respondents. The majority ofrespondents were between 57 and 64; 20 per cent were between 49 and 56;18 per cent were aged 65 to 72 and 10 per cent were aged 41 to 48.Respondents indicated that only 6 per cent were between 33 and 40; 1 percent were between 26 and 32 and 0.5 per cent were between 18 and 25.Figure 3: OccupationFigure 3 dispays the occupational distribution of respondents. The highestproportion of repondents indicated that they were retired. Following this thestrongest occupational category was professional at 32.5 per cent. Furthercatagories are respectively; tradesman, 10 per cent, clerical/administrative, 8per cent; manual workers, 4 per cent and housewife/husband at 3 per cent.No respondents were either unemployed or students. 11
  12. 12. Figure 4: EducationFigure 4 displays the educational distribution of respondents. As is apparentfrom the graph there is a relatively even spread of educational attainmentamongst councillors. The highest proportion of educational attainment at 21per cent was ‘O’ Level/GCSE; 20 per cent indicated that they were graduatesachieving a degree level of education; 15 per cent had achieved ‘A’ levelqualifications; 13 per cent indicated that postgraduate qualifications had beenachieved; 12 per cent specified that they had non- conventional qualificationsand 12 per cent responded that they had qualifications designated as other.Figure 5: Role in parishFigure 5 illustrates that predominantly, 72 per cent respondents indicated thatthey were councillors within local parish and town councils; 15.5 per centindicated that they were clerks, and 10 per cent responded that they were theChair of their parish or town council. 12
  13. 13. Figure 6: Motivation for becoming a member of the parish/town councilRespondents were asked to indicate what motivated them to becomeparish/town councillors. As is evident from Figure 6, significantly, 87 per centindicated that they became parish councillors in order to improve the well-being of their community; 1 per cent indicated that they became a parishcouncillor in order to improve their social standing; 2 per cent indicated thatthey became parish/town councillors because of an interest in politics; 10 percent said there were other reasons, and 0.5 per cent indicated that they didn’tknow why they became a parish/town councillor.Figure 7: Effect on parish/town councilsOverall, members of parish/town councils felt that they had a positive effect ontheir parish/town. The level of this effect varied significantly; only 16.5 percent felt that they had a very positive effect on their parish/town; 31 per centfelt that they had a significantly positive effect on the their parish/town, and 35per cent felt that they had quite a positive effect on their parish. A smaller 13
  14. 14. proportion felt that they had little effect on their parish, and 4 per cent felt thatthey had no effect at all on their parish.Figure 8: Awareness of role within parish/town councilRespondents were asked to indicate, on a scale of 1 to 5, if they felt they wereaware of what their role within the parish/town council would entail prior tobecoming a member. Members of town and parish councils indicated that 25percent were very aware of the of what their role would entail; 25 per centindicated they were aware; 25 per cent also said that they were quite aware;12.5 per cent said they had little awareness of what the role entailed, and 10per cent said they had no awareness of the what the role entailed beforejoining the parish/town councils.Figure 9: Continue to be a member of the parish council in the futureRespondents were asked to indicate if they felt that they would continue to bea member of the parish/town council in the future. As shown in Figure 9, themajority of respondents, 73 per cent believed they would continue to be 14
  15. 15. parish/town councillors in the future; 5 per cent indicated they would notcontinue to be parish councillors in the future and 20 per cent did not knowwhether they would continue to be parish/town councillors.Figure 10: Residence in parishFigure 10 illustrates the length of time the respondents have resided in theirparish/town. At 49 per cent the majority of parish/town members indicatedthey have lived in their parish/town for more than 20 years; 17 per centindicated they have lived in their parish/town between 6 and 10 years; 12 percent responded they have lived in their parish/town between 11 and 15 years;11 per cent indicated they have resided in their parish between 1 and 5 yearsand 8 per cent said that they have lived in their parish/town between 16 and20 years.Figure 11: Settlement typeRespondents were asked if they felt their parish/town was urban, rural ormixed. As illustrated in Figure 11, the vast majority of town/parish council 15
  16. 16. members felt their parish/town was rural, at a response rate of 84 per cent.Only 7 per cent felt that their parish was urban; 8 per cent indicated that theirparish was mixed and 1 per cent said that they did not know whether theirparish was urban or rural.Figure 12: Priority issuesRespondents were asked to rank the following issues in order of importanceto them. 30 per cent indicated that health was most important to them; 28 percent indicated that the environment was most important to them. A total of 20per cent indicated that crime was most important to them; 10 per cent saidthat education was most important to them and 14 per cent said that socialwelfare was most important to them. 16
  17. 17. Training and EducationThe following section focuses on the main areas concerning the trainingneeds of members of parish/town councils. Parish/town councillors and clerkswere asked if they felt that they required special training to effectively operatein their respective roles. They were asked if they would be willing toparticipate in extra training and education.Figure 13: Education and training needsOne of the primary goals of this research is to ascertain whether there is a‘need’ for further education and training amongst members of town and parishcouncils in Devon. Figure 13 illustrates the response rate with relation torequired training and education needs. As is evident from this graph, 75 percent of respondents felt that they required special training and educationalneeds and 25 per cent said that they did not feel additional training andeducation was needed.Figure 14: Willing to participate in training 17
  18. 18. Respondents were asked if they felt that they would participate in additionaltraining and education if it was available. 68 per cent indicated that theywould be willing to participate in extra training and education; 18 per cent feltthat they would be unable to participate and 10 per cent said that they did notknow if they would participate in extra training and education.Figure 15: Require special skillsMembers of parish/town councils were asked to indicate whether they felt‘special skills’ were required in order to effectively operate as a parish/townmember in the future. As shown in Figure 15, 70 per cent of respondentsindicated that ‘special skills’ were required in order to operate effectively as aparish/town member. Only 24 per cent indicated that they felt ‘special skills’were not required. 3 per cent indicated that they did not know if ‘special skills’were required.Figure 16: Primary skills 18
  19. 19. Respondents were asked to comment on whether they believed six core skillswere necessary to operate as a member of the parish/town council. Figure 16illustrates the aggregate of responses. 83 per cent indicated thatcommunication skills were the most important in order to be a member of aparish/town council. Interpersonal skills also scored highly at 62 per cent.Leadership and management skills received medium percentage scores of 43and 41 per cent respectively. At the lower percentage range, financial andproject management skills were scored at 37 and 33 per cent respectively.The above establishes a clear demand for additional education and training.The following will outline how members of parish councils would like to accessfurther training and education.Access to TrainingA number of questions in the survey were aimed to understand the variousdimensions of members of parish/town council’s access to training. Thisincluded financial, geographical and course provision issues.Figure 17: Fund own trainingRespondents were asked to indicate whether they felt they would financiallycontribute towards their own training. As illustrated in Figure 17; 65 per centsaid that would not be willing to pay for their own training; 15 per cent saidthat they would be willing to pay for their own training; 14 per cent said thatthey did not know if they would be prepared to fund their own training. 19
  20. 20. Figure 18: Travel for trainingRespondents were asked if they would be prepared to travel outside of theirparish/town area for the additional training. As Figure 18 illustrates, 50 percent said they would be prepared to travel for the training, Only 16 per centsaid that they would not be prepared to travel for training and 5 per cent saidthat they did not know whether they would travel for the training.Figure 19: Distance to trainingRespondents were asked to indicate how far they would be willing to travel inorder to receive additional education and training. Nearly half of therespondents, 49 per cent, said they would be willing to travel more than 20miles to receive their training/education; 11 per cent said that they would bewilling to travel between 16 and 20 miles; 8 per cent said that they would bewilling to travel between 11 and 15 miles; 4 per cent responded that theywould be willing to travel between 6 and 10 miles and 1 per cent said that theywould only be willing to travel between 1 and 5 miles. 20
  21. 21. Figure 20: Training deliveryIn addition to understanding the nature of demand for education and training,the survey identifies the preferred medium for providing education andtraining. This also ascertains how the respondents feel they would like toaccess the training. Figure 20 displays how members of parish/town councilsfelt they would best like to receive additional skills. The majority of therespondents, 56 per cent, indicated that they would like to receive educationand training through short courses. Following this, 40 per cent of therespondents said that they would like to receive education and training in agroup environment; 27 per cent indicated that they would like to receiveeducation and training through the medium of the internet and 6 per cent saidthat they would like to have one-to-one tuition.CommunityThis section presents results from the part of the survey that examinessustainable communities. Community is an emotive issue. Policy aimed atachieving sustainable development and more specifically, sustainablecommunities, is becoming increasingly sophisticated at incorporating thecomplexities of the issues involved. With this said, however, there is still asignificant lack of understanding of the way that community is perceived andunderstood. In the 21st Century the nature of community has changedsignificantly with advancements in technology, particularly transportation andthe increasing speed of global communications. The following sectionoutlines results from the survey that accesses members of parish/town andcouncils understanding of community. 21
  22. 22. Figure 21: CommunityFigure 21 clearly demonstrates that the majority of respondents considerthemselves to be part of more than one community. A total of 57 per centconsider themselves to be part of more than one community; 36 per centindicated that they were not part of more than one community and 5 per centsaid that their community was ‘other’.Figure 22: Community focusRespondents were asked to indicate what they felt was the focus of theircommunity. 61 per cent indicated that their community was focused on familyand friends; 37 per cent indicated that their community was based aroundwork; 29 per cent said that their community was based around hobbies and6.3 per cent suggested that their community was based around the internet. 22
  23. 23. Figure 23: Community areaRespondents were asked to indicate what basic geographical areas they felttheir community occupied. 86 per cent said their community was basedaround their local area; 24 per cent indicated that they are not geographicallydefined and 7.3 per cent thought their community was nationwide. With theissue of community explored within the context of the survey results, the nextsection moves to present the results on questions asked that related to thevarious mechanisms that exist for the creation of sustainable communities.Mechanisms for Achieving Sustainable CommunitiesThis section will present the interim results that pertain to the elementsidentified as contributing towards sustainable communities. The firstoverarching issue to be dealt with is the notion of partnership.PartnershipFigure 24: Work in partnership 23
  24. 24. Partnership is often seen as an essential element to achieving sustainablecommunities and more broadly, sustainable development. Respondents wereasked a number of questions relating to partnership. Initially, respondentswere asked if they felt that working in partnership was important. Asillustrated in Figure 24, an overwhelming majority of 90 per cent indicatedthat partnership was important; 7 per cent said that partneship was notimportant and 1 per cent said that they did not know if partnership wasimportant.Figure 25: PartnerRespondents were asked to indicate what organsiations within the localgovernance structure they felt it was important to work with. Figure 25presents the aggregate results of these responses. The highest ratedpartnership type was with district councils at 81 percent. Respondentsindicated that county councils should be included in partnership working, 73per cent; 72 per cent said that other parishes should be partners; 45 per centindicated that the voluntary sector was important as a partner and 31 per centindicated that the private sector was important for partnership. Nationalgovernment was seen as an important partner at 21 per cent and a unitaryauthority at 11 per cent.In conjunction with the overarching idea of partnership, a number of existingmechanisms and information sources are available that are designed tocreate sustainable communities. The following outlines the responses tothese mechanisms. 24
  25. 25. Figure 26: Awareness of sustainability mechanismsFigure 26 presents the aggregate results of respondents who indicatedwhether they were aware of a number of mechanisms that can be utilised forcreating sustainable communities. As expected, a high proportion, 60 percent were aware of the Quality Parish Scheme; 30 per cent were aware ofLocal Area Agreements and 11 per cent were aware of Comprehensive AreaAgreements; 9 per cent had heard of the National Governments Act on Co2document.Responding to RiskThe debate surrounding the achievement of sustainable development andsustainable communities is often preoccupied with the alleviation of increasingglobal phenomena such as global warming. This is an issue that has both aglobal and local relevance. In order that relevant and responsive courses canbe developed for members of parish/town councils, as well as broader publicsector organisation, understanding how respondents feel about these issuesis paramount. The following section will illustrate the results from part of thesurvey that refers to these issues. 25
  26. 26. Figure 27: Awareness of sustainable development related issuesRespondents were asked if they were aware of a number of issues thatrelated to sustainable development. 98 per cent indicated that they had heardof climate change; 85.5 per cent said that they had heard of the ozone layerand 43.5 per cent said that they had heard of Agenda 21. A total of 86 percent said that they had heard of biodiversity; 98 per cent had heard of globalwarming and 96 per cent had heard of the Carbon Footprint.Parish and town councils are increasingly responsible for effectively managingcomplex resources and responding to global issues that affect localcommunity life. One such issue that has increased in importance in the pastdecade is global warming. International, national and local governmentorganisations are increasingly being called upon in partnership with non-governmental organisations to help effectively manage the current andpotential consequences of global warming. Respondents were thereforeasked to indicate how they felt about this issue. 26
  27. 27. Figure 28: Heard of global warmingAs displayed in Figure 28, a total of 98 per cent of respondents indicated theyhad heard of global warming; 1 per cent indicated that they had not heard ofthe term and 1 per cent indicated that they did not know.Figure 29: Parishes carbon footprintFollowing the global warming line of enquiry, the respondents were asked toindicate whether they felt that they were concerned about their parishescarbon footprint. As is evident from Figure 29, the majority of respondentssaid that they were concerned about their parishes/towns carbon footprint at54 per cent; 35 per cent said they were not concerned, and 7 per cent saidthat they did not know. 27
  28. 28. Figure 30: Causes of global warmingRespondents were asked to indicate which of four statements relating toglobal warming they felt was most appropriate. Figure 30 shows that themajority of the members of town and parish councils indicated global warmingwas made worse by humans; 9.5 per cent felt that global warming was allhumanities fault; 8 per cent indicated that global warming was attributable tonatural causes and 3 per cent indicated that global warming was not actuallyhappening.Solutions for the FutureAs is clear throughout this report, there is a focus within this research on thecreation of sustainable communities and more broadly, sustainabledevelopment. By focusing on this issue, education and training needs can becreated that respond not only to current needs but also future demands. TheBritish Government has indicated that parish and town councils will be at thevanguard of encouraging a sustainable development at the local level. 28
  29. 29. Figure 31: Heard of sustainable developmentConsidering the significance of the term sustainable development, Figure 31shows that 68 per cent of the respondents indicated that they had heard ofsustainable development and 22 per cent said that they had not heard of theterm sustainable development.Figure 32: Basic elements of sustainable developmentSustainable Development is often broken down into three elements known asthe three pillars or ‘the triple bottom line’. These three elements are society,environment and economy. Members of parish/town councils were asked toindicate which one of these pillars of sustainable development they felt theconcept referred to. Figure 32 presents the aggregate results of this question.The majority of respondents, 68 per cent, said that sustainable developmentreferred to the environment; 44 per cent said that it refered to the economy,and 42 per cent said that it referred to society. 29
  30. 30. Figure 33: What is sustainable development?Respondents were asked to indicate on a scale of 1 to 5 to what extent theyagreed or disagreed with four statements that offered interpretations ofsustainable development. Figure 33 presents the aggregate of those whosaid that they agreed and strongly agreed to these statements.Predominantly, 77 per cent members of parish/town councils indicated thatsustainable development was a way of preserving natural resources. Overhalf of respondents at 51 per cent, agreed and strongly agreed thatsustainable development was little more than jargon to make governmentssound greener; 37 per cent agreed and strongly agreed that sustainabledevelopment was more important than money, and 24 per cent agreed andstrongly agreed that sustainable development meant protecting theenvironment at all costs.ConclusionsThe executive summary at the outset or this report outlined the overallfindings of this preliminary report. The following will briefly reiterate the mainfindings at this point. Most significant to the overall aim of this project, it isclear that the members of the town and parish councils felt that additionaltraining and education is necessary. Respondents felt that there is a specialskill set that is required in order to operate effectively as a parish/towncouncillor. There is a firm willingness within parish/town councils toparticipate in additional education and training if provided. With regard toachieving sustainable communities, respondents felt that this is a desirablegoal but there is confusion about what actions should be taken to achieve thisgoal. In line with this finding, there is a general lack of awareness of theexisting mechanisms that could be employed in the local governance processthat could contribute towards the creation of sustainable communities. Withthis in mind, there is an overwhelming feeling that working in partnership is animportant part of parish and town council operations. 30
  31. 31. As outlined in the introduction to this report, the project aims to provideinformation that will help in the development of training and education that willequip members of town and parish councils with the relevant skills to handlefuture issues. There was a particular focus within the survey on globalwarming and a number of environmental issues. What was evident is thatmembers of town and parish councils are concerned about the effects ofglobal warming upon their communities. In order for the development ofpolices that will encourage sustainability at the community level there needsto be a clear synergy between the national, regional and local areas. Thedevelopment and delivery of appropriate and up-to-date training andeducation programmes will take substantial steps in this direction.In sum, from these initial results two primary conclusions can be drawn: • Firstly, that there is a considerable need for additional training and education on a number of issues. Councillors and clerks have indicated that special skills are required and that they are willing to commit time to developing these skills. • Secondly, whilst respondents are aware of the terminology of sustainable development and sustainability, there is ambiguity concerning the meaning and relevance of these issues. Moreover, the mechanisms put in place to achieve the practical task of creating sustainable communities need to be more effectively communicated.Future DirectionsThis work is ongoing. Currently, data is still being received from the surveywhich will influence the results presented here. The survey has unlockedsome interesting and exciting issues, which by the very nature of a survey canonly be accessed at the surface level. The second phase of this project willinvolve conducting a significant number of in-depth interviews with membersof parish/town councils who have volunteered to assist us with this study.Results from these interviews, in conjunction with the survey data, will providea significant resource for the development of education and trainingprogrammes that are capable of responding to the challenges of the 21stCentury. 31
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