Working together in Birmingham’s neighbourhoods – share your views
Birmingham spans a broad and diverse range of neighbourhoods, which include hundreds of community groups and local organisations.
It is a place where citizens take great pride in where they live. As such, Birmingham City Council is launching a consultation to better understand how residents, community organisations and public services can work together, to make services more responsive to local needs.
The consultation, which is now live on the Council’s website, focuses on three key areas: local structures, logistics for working with neighbourhoods and local devolution deals.
Local organisations make an important contribution to neighbourhoods. They enable people to come together to discuss the future of their area and make changes needed for its betterment. Many different types of community structures exist, from neighbourhood forums to social enterprises to residents associations. However, a parish council is a formalised version.
Parish councils no longer relate to Church of England parishes. Instead, they are local elected councils which, can be called “Neighbourhood” or “Community” councils, to reflect a more modern and diverse community. Birmingham currently has two; Sutton Coldfield Town Council, which is the largest urban parish council in the country, and Frankley Parish Council. As such, the City Council wants to know if residents think that more of these neighbourhood councils would improve local services.
As there are many different forms of neighbourhood organisations, the City Council will need to embrace different models. The Council wants to see councillors and residents working as a team to get things done in every ward of the city. Therefore, every ward will have a Ward Plan, which sets out the priorities for the area. Charters will be agreed with different neighbourhoods that lay out the service standards and local improvements. Finally, Local Devolution Deals with specific areas that have adopted parish, town or neighbourhood councils will be agreed on a case by case basis. This means that where appropriate, some services and powers can be delivered locally.
Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, Cllr Sharon Thompson explains, “This is about so much more than just the creation of parish councils. It’s about getting individuals invested in their neighbourhoods and giving the people who know their communities best, a voice and the understanding of how they can change and improve services. We are determined to explore new ways of bringing about a more localised city and we want to hear from everyone.”
The consultation will run until 28 September 2018 and can be accessed at the Birmingham Be Heard website.