Engaging Communities & Local Government


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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