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Engaging Communities & Local Government

  • Mar 19, 2013 · 6:30 PM
  • Thatcher Room

The relationship of local government to local communities is vital to both local democracy and community building. In the last decade there has been some major shifts in thinking about this relationship. This meeting is about the nature of that shift.

At this meeting we would like to create awareness about some of the major issues facing local government at a time of austerity and financial retrenchment. We would like to spark this off by looking at two models of future development in local government - one the co-operative model where users are involved as citizens and the “Barnet” model where users are viewed more as consumers and services are contracted out. Both models recognise we are in an environment where we need to get more from less but they come out with different solutions and these are worth discussion and scrutiny.

Leading us in this discussion will be

Heather Wheeler is Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire. She was brought up in Wandsworth and elected Councillor there at the age of 22. In 1995 Heather was elected onto South Derbyshire’s District Council, becoming Leader of the Council in 2007 and remained Leader until her successful election victory. In Parliament Heather is a member of the Standards and Privileges Select Committee, which oversees the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and recommends any changes to the Code of Conduct or to the rules and punishment relating to the conduct of MPs and

Steve Reed who became the MP for Croydon North after winning the by-election held in that constituency in November 2012. Previously Steve was Leader of Lambeth Council and was named one of the three most influential council leaders in the country by the Local Government Chronicle in 2011 and was the highest-ranked Labour politician in the 2010 Pink List compiled by The Independent on Sunday.

Professor Mike Hardy is the Executive Director of the Institute of Community Cohesion in Coventry. Mike is an established leader in intercultural dialogue with a wealth of international experience including a specific interest in diversity and cultural exchange. He began his career as an applied economist and was Head of Economics and Public Policy at Leeds Metropolitan before moving to a Chair in International Business at the University of Central Lancashire. In 1995, following work with FCO, British Council and European Commission in the transition states of East Europe, Mike moved full time to British Council to continue international work in private sector development.

Clive Betts MP will open the meeting and introduce the topic as well as emphasising the importance of open debate and discussion on this at a time of rapid change. Clive Betts has been Member of Parliament for Sheffield Attercliffe since 1992 and is currently a member of the select committee for the department for communities and local government.

Join us in this discussion and add your views about what the relationship of local government should be to community development.

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  • P.Selvaratnam

    Folks, we have been talking enough. Can we please start doing some thing?
    Commonwealth Head of Government meeting is going to be held in Sri Lanka in November. In view of the atrocious human rights violations going on in Sri Lanka for decades there have been several voices from around the world urging change of venue or boycott:

    ‘’We conclude that continuing evidence of serious human rights abuses in Sri Lanka shows that the Commonwealth's decision to hold the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo was wrong'' – UK Foreign Affairs Committee: The role and future of the Commonwealth, 15 November 2012,

    But FCO still says it hasn't decided on attendance of the meeting.

    To be contd

    March 20, 2013

    • P.Selvaratnam

      Yesterday I attended a meeting at Overseas Development Institute in the morning. There was a discussion on the elections in Kenya and Ghana (Commonwealth countries) - the effect of bad governance on the elections and other related areas. Furthermore they are funded by donors like the UK !

      March 20, 2013

  • Gavin B.

    I too wished that there had been something more substantial about the Barnet Model. I think Heather Wheeler gave a sense of what it was about - the emphasis on 'efficiency' seems to be the common denominator underpinning her approach to that of Barnet. Both treat people as 'customers' and passive consumers of services, not as active agents capable of leading independent lives. And big service providers such as Capita often undercut and outbid small local social enterprises whose key attribute is their strong local networks and knowledge (even if they are not as 'efficient') . The result is that while we may have more 'efficient' services in the short term, in the longer term the social infrastructure of community groups and self-help enterprise - central to the notion of resilient communities - simply withers away.

    2 · March 20, 2013

  • Gavin B.

    pretty good - some interesting insights and good discussion

    March 20, 2013

  • Jeff R.

    Unlike other people both my guest and I felt that the meeting was very disappointing and not what it was billed as (including discussion on the Barnet Model!). The fact that the speakers had to leave meant that there was little opportunity to challenge them In particular, I would have wished to challenge Heather Wheeler MP who seemed to have a one track mantra - low Council tax and unless I missed it, did not have anything to say on new models of service delivery. My guest and I left early because the meeting was drifting all over the place with nothing of interest to us being said.

    March 20, 2013

  • Wendy S.

    Interesting and lively discussion

    March 20, 2013

  • Deirdre L.

    Great minds and connections, kindred spirits.
    The discussions continued outside and with the Met Police joining in also. Thanks Francis!
    Deirdre Lane Cosain

    1 · March 19, 2013

    • Mark

      Sorry I couldn't be there to be a part of this. I hope there will be a blog post on the events as it unfolded and be able to continue the conversation online.

      March 20, 2013

  • Peter F.

    Useful and interesting

    March 19, 2013

  • Dolly

    Apologies. Too ill to make it.

    March 19, 2013

  • Lily S.

    So sorry for short notice - unable to join tonight. Look forward to the next one.

    March 19, 2013

  • Ulla B.

    Apologies, I will not participate this evening.

    March 19, 2013

  • Bieneosa

    Work commitments mean that I can no longer attend this evening.

    March 19, 2013

  • Christina M.

    Sorry for late notice, but something pressing has come up.

    March 19, 2013

  • Julie M.

    I'm still unwell, so unable to attend. V disappointed not to be able to come along. Sorry for late notice.

    March 19, 2013

  • Samantha Y.

    I have had to change because of a course date change. Was really looking forwadt to it.

    March 18, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm really sorry not to make it. Looks like a great event but I'm already committed tomorrow with a Six O'Clock Club meetup just up the road at All Bar One in New Oxford Street from 6.00PM - 10.00PM. If anyone fancies popping in before or after you're more than welcome. I'd love to see you.


    March 18, 2013

  • Jonathan W.

    Sorry that I have to cancel tomorrow.

    March 18, 2013

  • Phil S.

    Unfortunately a previous commitment stops me from attending...

    March 17, 2013

  • Donald S.

    Think we need to encourage local authorities to move faster and bolder in engaging local communities

    1 · March 13, 2013

    • Wilfried

      I think we need to encourage local people to take advantage of the localism bill before commercial entities do. Local authorities are good at sticking to principals but not flexible enough to follow visions, which is what is needed

      4 · March 15, 2013

  • Sherif M.

    Hello all,
    It's interesting this. What I can do if I am not in U.K ?
    I liked diversity. I like diversity. I am thinking what can do about this to support of peace

    March 11, 2013

  • Peter D.

    As always, hailing from staid-old-Cambridge, I find it difficult to make London meetings. Is there anyone around in this city who would like, with me, to think about common ground around these debates and dialogues. In any event, if you would send me the after-seminar conclusions I would be grateful, and it may be of interest that the central library here is interested in an action-action initiative with us.

    March 11, 2013

  • Julian C.

    Hope I get in this time! :-)

    March 11, 2013

  • Tanya R.

    I am the founder of The Oyster Club, a business and social network with events in central London and Love Brigade, a social enterprise for extending kindness to the homeless. Listening, learning and participating is important to me, and the work I do depends on it.

    March 11, 2013

  • Wilfried

    The reality is that society would have stopped functioning a long time ago without the engagement of locals providing voluntary support that is not really recognised. My voluntary TMO board members provide thousands of hours work annually and expertise for free. The Council nor its ALMO have bothered to publicly recognise this. Needless to say who got bonus payments and awards during the same period. At the same time responsibility is shifted further to the voluntary sector, with a complexity of reporting or procedures attached that frightens most people to get involved. The new Modular Management Agreement we just signed to manage our housing estate has over 300 pages, and all the policy papers are not even included. It takes some convincing to motivate a working resident to spend severall evenings per month and up to 10 Saturdays or more to do a job that others get paid for and very often do it based on outcomes with focus on internal goals and to the detriment of real solutions.

    March 11, 2013

  • Maggie M.


    March 11, 2013

  • Christina M.

    In the spirit of engagement and participation, I will be there. Looking forward to it - thank-you for the invite.

    March 6, 2013

  • Julie M.

    Looking forward to this given my background in neighbourhood regeneration and my recent MA in social enterprise

    March 6, 2013

  • Alex

    Ah balls. This looks really interesting. However, I'm away that week. I hope we can get audio again. A

    March 6, 2013

  • Sergio

    Very interesting

    February 5, 2013

118 went

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