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Liz Richardson - Civil Society Innovation Network 23 Jan 2012


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Liz Richardson - Civil Society Innovation Network 23 Jan 2012

  1. 1. <ul><li>Liz Richardson, University of Manchester </li></ul><ul><li>23 rd January 2012 </li></ul><ul><li>Civil Society Innovation Network, LGIU </li></ul>Knowing and developing your communities
  2. 2. In a nutshell <ul><li>Trust that you can have mature dialogue with communities </li></ul><ul><li>Deliberating generates win-wins, compromise, and community contributions </li></ul><ul><li>Needs a deeper understanding of community views in all their frustrating complexity </li></ul><ul><li>Requires a new way of doing politics & sharing power </li></ul>
  3. 3. In a nutshell <ul><li>There are opportunities for community action & building resilience </li></ul><ul><li>But maximising these opportunities is undermined by a lack of belief in communities </li></ul><ul><li>Transferring more control to communities can be seen as risky, and needs to be handled creatively </li></ul><ul><li>This demands new skills from public sector professionals and new systems </li></ul>
  4. 4. There’s nowt so queer as folk <ul><li>Understanding how citizens see themselves, their identities and aspirations can have serious policy implications, e.g. 2 nd generation South Asian women; complex families & workless households </li></ul><ul><li>But understanding communities can be frustrating: cognitive polyphasia (Ipsos-MORI); attitudes and behaviour out of sync; difficulties of strategic thinking </li></ul><ul><li>When communities are clear about views, often to reject or confront, or ‘mau-mauing’ </li></ul>
  5. 5. Trusting communities to discuss and problem solve <ul><li>Revisiting challenges, e.g. NIMBYism? Or sustainable communities? </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue and action: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ you said, we did’ illustrates the problem – wrong model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deliberation e.g. online deliberation in Nudge nudge think think </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National Issue Forums in USA – ‘think, deliberate, act’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deliberative polling & citizens juries in Canada and Australia </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. ‘ Talk toilets’ in South Lakeland DC <ul><li>Work by Vision 21 </li></ul><ul><li>39 public toilets, £790k/yr to run, £16/household </li></ul><ul><li>Funded entirely from Council Tax </li></ul><ul><li>Costs up because of charges for water, electricity and fuel </li></ul><ul><li>Not all have hot water, baby changing etc </li></ul><ul><li>Est. £39m investment needed, based on assumptions re-community views: all toilets to highest standard, with no charges </li></ul>
  7. 8. Getting to Yes <ul><li>Commonsense method: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Separate the people from the problem; hard on the problem, soft on the people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on interests not positions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invent options for mutual gain & don’t accept a ‘fixed pie’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use objective criteria to assess options </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Positional bargaining versus principled negotiation DEBATE DELIBERATION search for weaknesses in other position search for strength in other position countering other position at the expense of the Relationship many people have pieces of an answer to a workable solution investing wholeheartedly in your beliefs temporarily suspend judgment oppositional, prove others wrong collaborative, common understanding goal is winning goal is common ground for action listen to find flaws and counterarguments listen to understand and find agreement defends original solutions looks for better solutions
  9. 10. Old politics; new politics <ul><li>Similar to LGID Political Skills Framework: </li></ul><ul><li>prefers political ‘blood sports’ to collaboration: uses scrutiny for political gain </li></ul><ul><li>encourages trust and respect by being approachable and empathising with others </li></ul>
  10. 11. Back to the toilets… <ul><li>Council’s position: ‘we want rid, and we want you to take them over, or they’re being closed’. </li></ul><ul><li>Parish and community position: ‘we don’t want to run them, but we want them kept open’ </li></ul><ul><li>Stalemate for 10 years </li></ul>
  11. 12. Interests not positions <ul><li>Their interests – shared and conflicting: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeping the area viable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Having a good working relationship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expanding assets/reducing assets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost savings/council tax rates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not taking on extra financial risks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing basic facilities if needed & used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Catering for visitors/tourism </li></ul></ul>
  12. 13. Options for mutual gain <ul><li>Found that public said: don’t have to be all singing all dancing. Don’t have to be run by the council. Don’t have to be free. </li></ul><ul><li>OPTIONS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>pay-to-use schemes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>transfer to town & parish councils </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>involve private companies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>community schemes e.g. make existing toilets in pubs and cafes open to public for free </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. The community came up with even more ideas <ul><li>Sponsor or adopt a toilet, or use for advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Community - Toilet Champions, mini art galleries </li></ul><ul><li>Toilets in public buildings e.g. library, Town Hall </li></ul><ul><li>Have smaller unisex blocks & more basic service </li></ul><ul><li>Tax on visitors </li></ul><ul><li>Involve other partners e.g. Tourist Board, NT </li></ul><ul><li>Temporary port-a-loos </li></ul><ul><li>Some happy to pay more council tax for it </li></ul>
  14. 15. Objective criteria <ul><li>Hard evidence about usage levels </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence about people’s preferences </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence that options are feasible (e.g. local businesses and parishes say yes, people sign upto to be volunteers, people willing to pay) </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence that meets accountability </li></ul>
  15. 16. Objective criteria – the evidence <ul><li>Only 12% used public toilets frequently </li></ul><ul><li>72% of residents supported pay-to-use schemes; 86% of visitors supported </li></ul><ul><li>70% of residents supported transfer to town & parish councils </li></ul><ul><li>54% of residents support the involvement of private companies </li></ul><ul><li>61% of residents & 86% of visitors supported community schemes </li></ul>
  16. 17. Dream on? Barriers to new politics <ul><li>Fundamental understandings of power – zero-sum or positive sum? </li></ul><ul><li>Hard to shift the way we do politics but possible e.g. Tameside MBC, Rossendale MBC, Stockport MBC </li></ul><ul><li>Transparency is critical e.g. Chorley BC </li></ul><ul><li>Honesty </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Councillors are white, male and old. I want a better spread of councillors but I don’t want it to be me that loses my seat! I love being a councillor. Some councillors complain but they’re all there at election time trying to get back in.” </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. Where are our modern Athenians? <ul><li>Gaps in community leadership roles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ An ideal role for ward members would be to challenge and be assertive […] and be real community leaders are prepared to say no. Lots of promises are made. There’s no challenge, they won’t say no.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Asian community want ‘a mosque’. If I said ‘yes here’s a mosque’ I would lose votes so I can’t. But I can’t tell them no because I’d look racist […] Muslims want to use the church – there’s only eight people there on a Sunday, but I can’t ask them because of politics” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Devolved decision-making and pork barrel politics? </li></ul><ul><li>Local councils – ‘Trumpton on Steroids’, but slow progress e.g. Parish Charters – good eg in Lancashire CC </li></ul>
  18. 19. Changing relationship with citizens – a topsy turvey world? <ul><li>Much cynicism; concern re: communities forced to fill gaps </li></ul><ul><li>We’re a long way from where we started – guess who?: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The growth of the state has promoted selfishness and individualism rather than social solidarity. There needs to be a thoughtful reimagining of the role of the state. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The state’s role is to nurture solidaristic human motivations. The state needs to exercise self-restraint; voluntarism can balance the power and dominance of the state. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>60 years of state welfare - well-intentioned - eaten away at capacity for mutuality & self-help </li></ul>
  19. 20. Who truly believes? <ul><li>LGIU 2011 survey on risk: 64% saw community sector capability as low; 66% felt community unmotivated to take on responsibilities, assets, services. </li></ul><ul><li>Under 20% had formally assessed community appetite for more involvement </li></ul><ul><li>London Councils 2011 Big Society report: reluctant to extend use of ‘Big Society-type providers’ unless difficulties of transferring risk, the fragmented nature of the third sector and variable quality and capacity can be dealt with. </li></ul><ul><li>London councils felt was little evidence of 'groundswell of enthusiasm [by citizens] to “join up and take part”' </li></ul>
  20. 21. More second guessing? <ul><li>Public sector attitudes could be explained away by ‘producer bias’ but, ironically, attitudes extend to voluntary sector </li></ul><ul><li>Community responses suggest different story? Wiltshire Libraries – 500 volunteers; Bradford – 4 out of 5 libraries due to close taken over by volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>But narrative of pessimism, cynicism across sectors </li></ul>
  21. 22. A different narrative? <ul><li>Global economic crisis; environmental threats; huge pressures on communities; risk of disorder…. </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities to re-focus on building community resilience </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. Trafford Hall, home of National Communities Resource Centre training courses: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tailor Made: setting up local projects to repair/remake clothes, swap clothes, make other things from clothes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community Chickens: keeping chickens encourages people of all ages to interact and produces food. Learn the theory, & hands-on experience . </li></ul></ul>
  22. 23. Are communities up to the job? <ul><li>Community transport vehicles not correctly insured. </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability to the wider community </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Apathy and sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>CRB checks </li></ul><ul><li>Financial mismanagement, </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of skills </li></ul><ul><li>BUT </li></ul><ul><li>Goes with the territory </li></ul><ul><li>Need to support communities </li></ul><ul><li>Extra benefits are worth the hassle </li></ul>
  23. 24. Community partnership & risk <ul><li>LGIU survey – 50% councils ‘risk averse’; over half felt Scrutiny not effective in managing risk </li></ul><ul><li>Risk avoidance or risk monitoring, not active risk management </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have a heart attack if we involve volunteers as the council – the health and safety and legal departments. If they work for us there’s all the risk and liabilities. They’re not supposed to do half of what they do.” </li></ul><ul><li>Risk assessment biased towards the worse-case scenario, do not take account of full costs and benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Deep policy problem of moral hazard </li></ul>
  24. 25. Managing risk <ul><li>One version: Stop whinging and waiting for someone to give you a check-book to start […] We’re bored to death of waiting for permission to get on and do things to improve out own lives […] this is the art of the possible […] the biggest nightmare is the mindset that looks for reasons why we can’t do anything. “ </li></ul><ul><li>Other options: better information on behaviour of communities, community versions of a PQQ; mechanisms to share risks and reward e.g. community dividends; proactive Scrutiny role e.g. Rossendale BC </li></ul>
  25. 26. Community rights <ul><li>Begrudging implementation of initiatives to transfer power to communities is a sure way towards failure </li></ul><ul><li>Measure of success of new community rights = they are not used </li></ul><ul><li>Rights are a last-ditch option, strains relationships & has lots of transaction costs for both parties. </li></ul><ul><li>Local government needs to respond constructively to all forms of citizen mobilisation – however challenging, otherwise the process will be dis-empowering and unsustainable </li></ul>
  26. 27. What kind of public sector workers? <ul><li>People with local knowledge: “very mundane yet expert understanding from lived experience”. </li></ul><ul><li>Based on talking face-to-face with communities, spending more time ‘out and about’ in neighbourhoods </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Civic entrepreneurs’ – flexible & creative problem solvers </li></ul><ul><li>But for some public sector staff, out of their comfort zone, lacking in critical self-reflection, defensive, reluctant to do things differently </li></ul>
  27. 28. What kind of public sector? <ul><li>‘ Total engagement’ e.g. Somerset CC, Blackburn with Darwen BC </li></ul><ul><li>“ Any bureaucracy resists devolution, whether knowingly or not.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ways of managing don’t always encourage it: “most public agencies lack confidence in their staff, so they impose lots of rules and regulations” </li></ul>
  28. 29. Getting systems right <ul><li>Targets not in line with desired outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on “servicing the structures”: “we spend all our energy into getting people to meetings but not why they are there or what they do afterwards” </li></ul><ul><li>Couldn’t have community meeting because not enough chairs?! “We have to follow Council policy.” </li></ul><ul><li>Pressure not to be seen to have failures, no space for experimentation </li></ul>
  29. 30. More information <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>0161 275 0879 </li></ul>