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Cambridgeshire councillors consider further ways to develop services with and for communities

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Members will discuss further ways to work more closely with communities across the county to support its Joint Administrations vision for a ‘greener, fairer and more caring Cambridgeshire – including establishing new pilot projects.

Cambridgeshire’s Strategy and Resources Committee when it meets this week (27) will consider an approach which will lead to further decentralising of county services to ensure that they are tailored to the needs and wants of local communities, and make the most of existing assets, connections and expertise.

More localisation is a key part of the council’s Joint Administration plans to deliver its vision and priorities– and earlier this year the council’s leadership team was tasked to work with partners and local communities to develop principles for doing this, and make recommendations to Strategy and Resources to take these forward.

Cambridgeshire County Council. (57541910)
Cambridgeshire County Council. (57541910)

Although many of the Cambridgeshire County Councils services are already delivered directly to individuals and families, a key aim of decentralisation is to make sure that more council services are controlled and accessed at a very local level.

Councillor Tom Sanderson, chair of the council’s communities, social mobility and inclusion (CoSMIC) committee - which has been asked to advance this approach in its work with communities, said; “Global or national challenges are often best addressed locally by services and partnerships that respond to the needs and goals of the people they serve – but it is particularly important that services the county council provides, funded primarily by local people, are designed for and by them.

“My committee is keen that all council services should be as informed by the residents and communities they affect as possible, as this enables them to have a higher quantity and quality of opportunities to influence decisions that affect them.”

New Shire Hall, Cambridgeshire County Council. Picture taken by LDR (57541903)
New Shire Hall, Cambridgeshire County Council. Picture taken by LDR (57541903)

Examples of where the Council does this already are highlighted – such as working on approaches to food poverty and the household support fund, and the Homes for Ukraine programme where much work has been in and with the community and district councils, and Community Flood groups -which the council supports to produce flood risk action plans, with intelligence, grants, and access to resources.

“Parish and town councils already provide a wide range of services for their communities but some aspire to provide even more, “ said Mike Tew vice chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Association of Local Councils and assembly member of National Association of Local Councils “ Parish and town councils and NGOs are ideally placed to take on Place-making for their local areas. Although there is an appetite for decentralisation of services to a more local delivery model, It is not feasible to expect services to be transferred without the appropriate level of funding and training.”

Among a number of further pilot schemes being recommended for consideration by the committee include a pilot looking at local highways improvements, further work on Library transformation and work on waste and recycling, and broadening the work of an East Cambs focussed care concept ‘Care Together’.

“It’s really fantastic that the Local Authority are bringing carers together to ask them directly what matters to them and what they feel carers should be asked, to collect carers voice and views to inform the Carers Strategy in a place and strength-based way.” Hannah Roots, Fundraising Consultant at Charity Fundraising.

“For me, at this stage of our neighbourhood development, the benefit is the local presence of the place-based commissioning manager, which helps me understand how Local Authority jigsaw pieces might fit with our particular pieces, and the pieces other colleagues bring. It seems to me we all need to be prepared to make a start, work in novel ways, and make sure we check what has actually worked." added Simon Randall, Manager, Ely Primary Care Network

Strategy and Resources Committee starts at 10am on June 27 at New Shire Hall in Alconbury, and will be live streamed.

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