Tag: CP2

Missed connections

Swindon Borough Council’s Connecting People Connecting Places programme — CP2 for short — appears to have a blog. I say ‘appears’ because the week old Connecting Swindon blog has received no publicity and is devoid of links from official sources. The only link I can find is that the Swindon Borough Council twitter account follows the Connecting Swindon blog’s twitter feed. With that level of publicity the blog is, for the moment, largely speaking to nobody.

Lack of publicity is not the only weak point of the Connecting Swindon blog. The latest posting is on events in the Town Centre cluster.

We will be continuing this form of local engagement over the next couple of weeks in the Eastcott area with an event at Groundwell Rd on Tuesday 10th November and in the central ward area later in the evening in the Manchester Road area followed by an event on Farringdon Road on Friday 13th November in the afternoon.

The next couple of weeks? They must be fans of time travel, as that was posted on 26th November. And this is the only publicity these events have received: they are not even mentioned on the cluster’s official page.

With poor publicity like this, one could be forgiven for thinking that the council does not really want to know the opinions of the community. If you read the job description for a cluster lead you may well be convinced that is so. The ‘people’ barely get a mention.

Work hand in hand with ward members to establish the framework for neighbourhood area forums including governance, membership and forward agendas.

So that’s zero community involvement in setting the local agenda.

The overall strategic vision and priorities are set by the local authorities and partners through the Community Strategy and the Local Area Agreement and other plans such as the Children and Young People’s Plan. The Neighbourhood Area Agreement will have a range of themes cascaded from those two documents, that the area forum will monitor and explore to achieve local community priorities.

Welcome to top-down planning. Far from being a meaningful conversation, CP2 appears to be a monologue.

Disconnecting People, Disconnecting Places

Whose tent is this?Yesterday I went to Swindon Borough Council’s central area Connecting People Connecting Places event in Wharf Green and the Parade. It was, to be generous, a waste of time.

Connecting People Connecting Places is Swindon Borough Council’s take on the government’s Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power policy. The alleged aim is to get people more interested in local government by taking power — not that there’s much left with all the centralisation and target setting by the current government — from local councils and giving it to groups of local people. Naturally, the thought that a better approach might be to take power from central and regional government and give it to local councils never crossed their mind.

With that poor and illogical reasoning behind its creation, Connecting People Connecting Places is never likely to do well. But the council and most councillors clearly aren’t trying hard either. Today’s event in the town centre had very little advanced publicity: just a page on the Swindon strategic partnership website and a news item on the Council’s website since last Thursday. The ‘cluster chair’ seemed quite unapologetic when this was lack of publicity was highlighted on the TalkSwindon forum. But given how poor the event was, I’m almost ashamed to have tried to publicise the event myself.

What was promised sounded fairly impressive.

Ward members will be on hand between 11am and 2pm at both locations with officers from Swindon Borough Council, the Local Neighbourhood Policing Team, Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service and other volunteers to hear residents’ opinions.

There was no missing the police presence: it seemed as though every member of central Swindon’s police teams was on hand, particularly at Wharf Green. Anyone would think they’d nothing better to do, such as controlling crime. The fire service was also at Wharf Green and inSwindon in the Parade. Less visible were the ward councillors. I saw just two, both dressed in anonymous suits with nothing to identify them as councillors. In fact there was virtually nothing to identify this as a council event at all. It was more a ‘meet the police’ event than a ‘connect with your council’ event.

Council officers will use people’s favourite places in the centre of Swindon to create a virtual Google map. The map will also be used to chart areas where there are problems.

I saw paper maps and post-it notes.

In principle, using different approaches to engage with residents in sensible; but not when it’s as poorly thought out and executed as this was.