Plans to transform local decision making backed by councillors

Caption: A range of important work is set to be undertaken by Community Committees across the city.

Proposals to transform the involvement of residents in local decision making have been backed by councillors this week.

Approved at the council’s annual meeting, plans will now move forward on the introduction of new ‘Community Committees’, which will replace the previous area committees model, and aim to revolutionise how people can influence the priorities and delivery of important services in the areas where they live.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

"We are pleased that councillors have backed our proposals to move forward with Community Committees, but we are under no illusions that the hard work very much starts here to ensure residents from across the city can have a bigger say in important decisions for their local areas.

"As part of our aims, we will be putting a greater emphasis on community engagement and how local people can better influence what our priorities are, and also where key services should be targeted. Our meetings will be more accessible to the public, and we will work with key partners to ensure our efforts are more joined up and better meet the needs of residents."

For a number of years, a range of important responsibilities have been delivered locally by area committees. These have included street cleansing and environmental action, the management of community centres and allocation of funding to support local groups and organisations delivering a wide range of important projects. In picking up these important services, the Community Committees will seek to further encourage local people to help drive forward positive changes in their areas. This will become even more vital given the council’s proposals to devolve further budgets.

In order to strengthen involvement and communicate the work that is being undertaken, more meetings of the Community Committees will be held in places and buildings that are most accessible to residents. Agendas at meetings will also be tailored to focus on local priorities Work to build on and improve existing networks with other forums and partners such as Parish Councils, the police and the voluntary sector will also be undertaken to ensure that both the aims and ambitions for each area are more focused and joined up.

The first meeting of the new Community Committees are set to take place in July. To support the launch of the new Community Committees, new, user-friendly branding will be introduced to help publicise the work that they will do and how residents can get involved.

Councillor Gruen added:

"The council has put on record its determination to move more powers away from the Civic Hall and into the hands of people living in our communities. Community Committees are going to have a massive role to play in helping us to deliver this, and we want every single resident to get involved."

Notes to editors:

To find out more about the changes, please see the following report to the council’s annual meeting: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/g6723/Public%20reports%20pack%2028th-May-2014%2010.00%20General%20Purposes%20Committee.pdf?T=10

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk