|| Engaging local communities, listening and responding to citizens|
Rural communities are often small and dispersed and can be difficult to reach for a local authority with scarce resources. The recent Welsh index of multiple deprivation showed the wards at the western tip of Llyn are the worst with regard to access to services in Gwynedd. They were the highest ranking in any of the 7 deprivation categories. However, facilitation has been successful where there has been a commitment to building long-term engagement with these communities.|
A continuing dialogue enables local people to see the decision-making and investment as legitimate. Consulting communities regularly builds confidence and thus, the process strengthens effective governance. People do, however, suffer from 'consultation fatigue' with shallower cross sections responding, thus distorting results.
Engaging communities can be time consuming and resource hungry for councils. And consultation will be quickly seen through if it is in any way token. Nevertheless effective engagement can be done on a relatively modest scale by supporting communities to take the lead. Local initiatives lend their own 'stamp' and when implemented effectively enhance results with richer and more detailed information.
Listening to customers can be measured by the tangible difference made to the actions that are planned and implemented. The engagement process should take the opportunity to add value to proposals, and develop greater ownership and responsibility. Statutory responsibilities tailored and enhanced for local needs.
The council has an important role to play in enabling the communities first partnerships to develop strategies and
action plans to guide their work. Local strategies need to be in line with regional plans, to make the most of attracting external resources. There will increasingly be a requirement to ensure that plans are sustainable in the long term. A local, broad based partnership will be needed to link economic, social and environmental plans and policies.
Successful facilitation strikes the balance between the strategic and local through pragmatic partnership. Establishing the right representation and ensuring effective
communications between partners is key to achieving this. Local authorities have the knowledge, drawn in many cases from their statutory responsibilities and dedicated resources, to understand conditions at the local scale. They can use this to help all stakeholders build a shared understanding of local issues. Furthermore, the council can demonstrate its leadership through aligning its own plans and actions with that of local partnerships.
looking at the Welsh index of multiple deprivation data, the highest ranking (worst) wards in Gwynedd are-
163 Marchog + 346
617 Diffwys a Maenofferen
665 Tywyn 2
723 Bowydd a Rhiw
733 Llanllyfni a Clynnog
744 Botwnnog a Tudweiliog
Of these, the worst wards in Gwynedd under ANY of the 7 deprivation indicators are Aberdaron, Tudweiliog and Botwnnog ,respectively. They are the 13th and 15/16th worst areas throughout Wales with regard to 'Access to Services'
The council does not have to lead partnerships or be seen to dominate their activities. Nevertheless it is important to support the organisation through guidance and administration. Delivering local regeneration relies upon resources provided by a wide range of organisations operating at the local, sub-regional, county and national level.
As time rolls on, inactivity and compacted local social and economic problems become more ingrained and difficult to tackle. Communities first partnerships are now 4 and five years in. A new deprivation index is out, new national and county-wide plans are in the pipeline and consultation needs to be turned into concrete with actual and measurable outputs.
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