The 'Strong and Prosperous Communities' Series
The next few years will present many challenges for those involved in delivering public services at the local level. The creation of 11 new local government districts and the introduction of a council led community planning process will have major implications, not just for local government managers but for all public managers representing the wide range of functions and services administered and delivered locally.
Against this background and an evolving policy agenda, the Forum in co-operation with SOLACE and the Local Government Staff Commission is organising a series of workshops that will examine some of the issues involved and, more generally, ways in which local managers representing different agencies can better work together to achieve better outcomes for the communities they serve.
Each of the themed workshops asks managers to reflect, not just on the functions and services they are individually responsible for, but more strategically to engage with other service providers in thinking about the needs of their local areas and how in partnership they might transform how things are done at the local level.
The 'Community Cohesion and Integration' Workshop
The third of four events this workshop addressed discussed 'Community Cohesion and Integration'.
Marcus Coleman, Assistant Chief Executive, Lincolnshire County Council, made the point that no single organisation has sufficient resources to make a sufficient difference when seeking to cope with the significant impacts of inward migration and the assimilation of large numbers of migrants. Reflecting on Lincolnshire’s experience and the policies and initiatives of the Council, he said the Council had addressed a number of issues and wider features of assimilation including: the link between pockets of endemic deprivation and immigration; the question of unemployment and the threat to low-key jobs; and the impact of change on settled rural and often highly conservative communities. He illustrated his talk by giving examples of the ways in which the Council was tackling these and other issues including the development of a community cohesion partnership and the integration of various policy initiatives into service planning and delivery arrangements.
Turning the spotlight on local initiatives here in Northern Ireland, Justyna McCabe, Challenge for Change Manager, Newry and Mourne District Council outlined some of the actions being taken within Newry and Mourne and, notably, in co-operation with Louth County Council across the border.
The third speaker, Dr Duncan Morrow, Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council, set developments in a broad historic and geopolitical context embracing issues specific to the assimilation economic migrants while reflecting on Northern Ireland’s political accommodation and, at the community level, the still fragile consensus that underpinned it.
All three presentations demonstrated the striking commonality of the issues reflected in the experiences and analysis under discussion—whether they be grounded in Northern Ireland’s local communities or the shared experience of assimilating new neighbours. The ensuing discussion clearly demonstrated that there was much to be gained from sharing experiences and different agencies looking to work together to deal complex issues through joined-up approaches and co-ordinated actions.
Click on the link for a cipy of the Programme.
Other Events in the Series