The Falkirk Community Planning Partnership has a Locality Planning framework approved by its Strategic Board. This provides for and links planning at strategic, intermediate and community levels. The intermediate level of the framework separates the Falkirk Council area into three localities based on multi member ward boundaries and a population of approximately 50,000. The community level of the framework comprises Community Action Planning. One of the key challenges which the implementation of the framework is now resolving is to meaningfully engage and encourage participation and influence in locality planning by local community representatives, as well as local Elected Members. We have also developed mechanisms to review and filter a comprehensive evidence base, to determine where detailed Community Action Planning should take place and the priority issues which need to be considered within this. A Chief Officer Group which oversees planning at the locality level fulfils this function making recommendations to the Strategic Board on these matters.
Theme: Community Planning and Empowerment
The Falkirk CPP’s Locality Planning Framework achieves community influence in the following ways:
- A locality wide consultation using the Place Standard and existing community intelligence form part of the evidence considered by the Chief Officer Group;
- A community conversation event to feedback consultation results and collated evidence. This provides local stakeholders, including community representatives and local Elected Members a say on the issues for Community Action Planning;
- The participation of community representatives on a Stakeholder’s Group which oversees local Community Action Planning processes;
- The participation of community representatives on action groups within Community Action Planning; and
- Reporting back to communities on the impact of Community Action Planning.
What helped us to improve community participation?
Existing relationships with the local communities has helped. Officers of Community Planning partners, who work in the different areas, have local knowledge and expertise and are an important part of the picture. The Place Standard is a really good tool for engaging young people. The tool is visual, optimistic and opportunistic and it provides a good framework for engagement (there has been some really good feedback).
We have made a commitment to continuing dialogue with local communities, even once the main process supporting Locality Planning have been completed. Our approach on Locality Planning has been designed with continuous improvement in mind.
What were the barriers to improving community participation?
Feedback from local people who have used the Place Standard have found 14 categories to be too cumbersome, they take too long to complete and there is considerable duplication across the different categories. We have developed a ‘lighter’ version of the Place Standard based on this feedback.
It is critical to go back to communities and schools to feedback on progress or to continue the dialogue. Some views of the community are that engagement has been previously done but no action took place. We are keen to go back to those people and keep them informed and engaged – and see this happening in two phases: feeding back what they’ve told us, and feeding back on actions that will be taken (based on what people need).
We need to look at sharing data much more effectively across all partners. We also want to have one, joined-up approach to community involvement because otherwise we wouldn’t have enough resource, and to develop new, smarter ways of working.
An approach based on equality of influence and using co-production principles is essential if communities are to be meaningfully engaged in Locality Planning. These are also essential attributes in being able to overcome consultation fatigue and public apathy built up from historical consultations and approaches.
A commitment to continuing dialogue with local communities is also essential, rather than parachuting into communities in one off processes. Locality Planning must also adapt and respond to community feedback and provide an exemplar of continuous improvement.