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Borough backs pilot project on spending in Haverhill

Wednesday, 19th September 2012.

The project to pioneer new ways of spending on services in Haverhill has been given the formal backing of the borough council.

St Edmundsbury has pledged its formal commitment to take part in the Haverhill Community Budget pilot and has appointed a director to oversee its participation.

Haverhill has been chosen by the Government as one of 12 areas in the UK to pilot a new way of giving local communities more say in the way budgets are spent.

The board of ONE Haverhill, which is delivering the project, plans to target its pilot work in two distinct areas - improving the physical environment and improving opportunities for young people/youth provision.

While some community budgets involve organisations pooling their budgets, the Haverhill pilot is based on the respective budgets remaining in each organisation but with the understanding that the budgets will be used differently, in a more joined-up way to achieve service improvements identified through community engagement.

Anne Gower, chairman of ONE Haverhill, said: “The recommendations were approved unanimously and I was delighted that three members of the core group were able to be there to participate.

"Cllr John Griffiths received a letter from Mike Desborough of the Department for Communities and Local Government which was copied to every member of the Cabinet and which was very well received.

"Cllr Griffiths sent his thanks to Mike and complimented the core group on their work which he feels is very exciting not only for Haverhill but for wider local government generally.”

The pilot comprises six steps:

Identifying partner resources currently spent on youth provision and public realm in Haverhill (how it is spent/who with/why);
Asking the community their views and priorities for the use of resources;
Balancing community views against service/organisational priorities/capacity;
Developing the community budget and new ways of working to deliver services with the community and with service providers;
Identifying a lead organisation for the newly developed ‘service(s)’ who will commission this for Haverhill on behalf of ONE Haverhill in 2013/2014;
Evaluation andreview process and scope for community budget expansion in future years.

Since May 2012, a core group of officers from Suffolk County Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Haverhill Town Council and Haverhill Chamber of Commerce plus a project manager have been meeting weekly to drive the project forward.

There are monthly reports to Cllr Gower as the chairman and the ONE Haverhill Board is updated at each of its meetings.

An initial exercise has identified a total of 66 services across a variety of providers which contribute to the two themes.

The core group has been gathering details of the current service levels and costs in a number of the areas thought likely to be the focus of public comment.

Officers have provided information on the following services provided by St Edmundsbury: parks and recreation areas, play areas, grass-cutting, youth provision and youth-related anti-social behaviour.

In June, the Department for Communities and Local Government reviewed ONE Haverhill’s progress and found the pilot on-track.

Key milestones for the project in the next few months are the submission of the draft operational plan by September 21 and then the plan being subject to a Department for Communities and Local Government co-ordinated peer challenge process (where other pilots ask ONE Haverhill questions, offer advice, and share experiences) in the first week of October. 

October will also see the conclusion of the community engagement work and the beginning of a programme of change management activity for all those involved in the services identified for the pilot.

This activity will be delivered to all partner organisations and will involve all those from decision-makers through to those involved in service delivery in order to help generate the conditions for new productive ways of collaborative working.

The provider selected for this activity will also be developing a toolkit for ONE Haverhill which partners can use to help roll out this kind of change management in future.

Haverhill Online News

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