Proposals to transform local decision making on Executive Board agenda

A range of proposals to boost the involvement of residents in local decision making is to be discussed by members of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board next week. This follows work undertaken by the council in the past year to identify how people across the city can become more engaged and contribute to key decisions that are taken in the areas where they live.

As part of recommendations which have been put forward for consideration, 10 area committees, which currently play a key role in the delivery of local key services and support for community groups, would be replaced and renamed by ‘Community Committees’.

Currently area committees set out detailed improvement plans for the areas they represent, and decide through a monitored service level agreement, where both street cleansing and environmental action should be targeted. The management and budgets of community centres are also undertaken, while funding is also provided to agencies, groups and organisations which support a range of important projects that are being delivered in communities.

The development of the ‘Community Committees’ concept would place a greater emphasis on making meetings more appealing for people to attend and make their voice heard in order to better influence the priorities and objectives that are set out by local councillors for the areas where they live. This would be delivered through an improved community engagement plan, which highlighting the activities and decisions taken by ‘Community Committees’ will target not just residents, but existing networks, forums and partners such as Parish Councils and the police.

If recommendations are supported by senior councillors at the meeting, a public consultation will be undertaken on ‘Community Committees’, prior to final arrangements being brought back to the executive board in May 2014.

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

"We have worked extremely hard over the past year to investigate how we make sure that residents can have a bigger say in the key decisions that are taken by area committees.

"The area committees do an excellent job delivering key services and supporting vital local projects through the distribution of grants right across the city. Unfortunately however, residents are not always aware of what they do and the important role that they play.

"This needs to change, and we think ‘Community Committees’ could be the answer in better communicating the work that is being undertaken, increasing resident participation and strengthening our partnership working with key networks and organisations in areas across the city.

"If agreed by members of the executive board, this will give us the opportunity to undertake a full public consultation on the idea, and from here come back with some firm proposals later next year."

Notes to editors:

For more information, please see: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s106437/Local%20Communities%20Cover%20Report%20Appendices%201-3%20051213.pdf

For media enquiries, please contact;

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

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk