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Town triumphs in bid to pilot new community budgeting scheme

Thursday, 22nd December 2011.

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

The Government yesterday announced that Haverhill Town Council’s bid to pilot ‘neighbourhood level community budgeting’ in the town has been successful.

The pilot aims to bring together the funding already provided by a range of community partners, for a number of local services in Haverhill.

Decisions about the use of this ‘pooled’ funding will be made locally under one umbrella body – the ONE Haverhill Board – instead of being determined by a number of dispersed organisations, some quite remote and often with
their own different priorities.

Services that have already been highlighted for inclusion in the community budget include:
• Services for children and young people, including tackling NEETs and anti-social behaviour;
• Community facilities and buildings;
• Sports and leisure services;
• Grounds maintenance and the public realm;
• Services for older people, and;
• Promotion of opportunities for economic development.

The main aims of the pilot are to:
• Deliver the best outcomes for local people, reflecting their needs and priorities;
• Facilitate greater control over services and budgets by local people;
• Deliver significant financial savings and value-for-money.

Town mayor Maureen Byrne was delighted by the announcement. She said: “This is a wonderful achievement for Haverhill. It gives us a real opportunity to involve local people directly in decisions about local services, and putting all of the various partners’ funding in one pot will mean we can get the best possible value for money in what we all do.

“I am particularly proud because this was the only pilot agreed by the Government that was put forward by a town council rather than by one of the bigger district or county councils.

"We think this is really important – community budgets are best placed to succeed if they are driven by public service providers that are closest to the people they serve.”

The ONE Haverhill Board is an independent partnership made up of representatives from across the public, business, voluntary, and faith sectors.

Established in April 2011, to replace Haverhill Partnership, it aims to tackle priority issues collaboratively across organisational boundaries, and so is well-placed to oversee the development of community budgets.

The full bid document can be obtained from the town council, and includes an outline timetable that aims to establish appropriate community budgets and mechanisms for their management within 12 months.

The chairman of ONE Haverhill, Cllr Anne Gower, has welcomed the news.

In a letter to Cllr Gower, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles congratulated the partners involved in the bid to become a pilot and said: “This is a real opportunity for you to say to Government what is needed to transform local public service delivery at a neighbourhood level, to further develop community capability, and to shape, from the customer’s perspective, the way communities receive services.”

Central Government officials will soon contact ONE Haverhill to work on the details of the pilot scheme.

The idea is to test how residents at very local levels can influence the services they receive from a range of agencies by cutting across organisational boundaries and making the most of the public money available in the area.

Cllr Gower said: “This is incredibly exciting news for people in Haverhill. Not only will they be involved in decisions about their own services but they will also be helping to influence national Government policy.

"It is a great endorsement of ONE Haverhill’s work to pull together the many different agencies that deliver services in the town to make sure we make every penny of our budgets count.

"I’m really looking forward to seeing how this will develop and what a difference it can make to Haverhill as we work with our residents to shape future services.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council chief executive, Geoff Rivers, added: “It is a new way of looking at the needs and services in our area. Rather than starting from an organisational viewpoint we turn the telescope around and look at the communities we serve.

"It involves the town, borough and county councils working alongside the voluntary and community sectors. It’s a new mindset for all, but a logical way of working.”

More information about the community budget scheme is available on: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/2056449

Haverhill Online News

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