About This Blog

The public should know all we can about the business of the decision makers that affect our lives, our wallets and our democracy. This is a record of my efforts to try and improve the levels of transparency and accountability within Sheffield City Council and others. To shine a light on how decisions are made and where the money goes. If I can also help others to find their own voice and influence along the way, then that is a bonus.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Sheffield City Partnership Board Meeting 12th January 2018

This meeting was intended to focus on the current work streams around inclusive growth and to look at the current position of the State of Sheffield Report 2018, currently being written.

There were three presentations during the public session, the first was from the Cohesion Sheffield team looking at their work in the city.

First up for them was Mike Fitter of the Cohesion Advisory Group. He talked about the Cohesion Sheffield aims being 'a city where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

They are a group that is a co-production between CAG and SCC and some of the early partners involved included, South Yorkshire Police (vis the PCC), University of Sheffield and John Lewis.

They work to two principles; Structural – Based on the fact that cohesion is undermined by deprivation and not diversity. Relational – The idea of the Cohesion Lens – How we all work together.

He also outlined the importance of inclusive growth to the cohesion agenda in the way it brings together social and economic policies. Commented positively on one of my favourite subjects, citizen engagement and community development. Then emphasised the need for local leadership that reflects the current diversity of Sheffield.

Angela Greenwood, Community Services Manager for SCC came next. She talked about how cohesion is about getting on with each other at all levels and about how we maintain cohesion and our ability to intervene when cohesion breaks down.

The benefits of co-production for SCC. Trusted and strong relationships, Innovation and the ability to do so much more as well as access extra funding. £835K from Central Government and £500K from Lottery funding.

Angela also highlighted some challenges; Mistrust of Council & Partners. Constant change of colleagues. Takes longer to achieve things through co-production & Sometimes hard to explain the concept.

The things that SCC were working on were listed as; Cohesion grant fund of £60K over 2 years. Cohesion Charter. Community Investment Deal & Regional & National work.

Finally there was Panni Loh, Development Co-ordinator for Cohesion Sheffield. She outlined the origins and development to date of the group. Based in Voluntary Action Sheffield but working across all sectors. Launched in October 2017, still new. She talked about key activities to date being around Engagement & relationship/trust building. Working with organisations to generate their own Cohesion Action Plans. Lastly there will be a Cohesion Sheffield conference on 21st March 2018 in the Town Hall, all welcome.

There were a number of comments and questions from the Board members around how success would be measured and the scale of the response moving up from individual organisations to a more general cohesion plan.

The next presentation was Simon Ogden of Creative Sheffield, presenting a summary of the Sheffield City Centre Development Plan 2018. This is due for a consultation period in Mid February.

The City Centre Plan is designed to outline a purpose & structure to planning in the city centre. A vision for the next ten years, a clear narrative to everyone, a signal to the market about opportunities in the city, a sales pitch/call to action and a single source of 'truth'

Why City Centre? It's a major driver of the City Region economy, it is key to growth for the city overall, it's a centre for the education sector, it's a meeting point for all the people of the city and it's part of the key to sustainable living.

Some of the key points he highlighted were the move towards a compact and High Quality retail area, three new business districts planned, growing the education campuses, Castlegate development and the better use of roads & public transport. There was a considerable amount more but the presentation was delivered at such a speed as to make it difficult for me to take notes but then, the public is not the audience for this really. That is to wait until the public consultation.

There were a number of projects mentioned that are already underway, either having gained planning approval or indeed being under construction. This rather undermines the idea of a consultation in anything but name only. The plans appear firmly established and the consultation will be a rubber stamp approach I suspect. It is not untypical of the approach of top down design projects, they make the decisions we get to say how much we like it...or not.

I had hoped to hear that real public consultation would be a regular part of the future vision for the city so that the people that live in and use the space can influence the direction it takes. Having a say once every ten years is not good enough in a world where social media can enable regular checks and balances on what planners have in mind.

My final point would be that the heritage economy was mentioned only in passing with respect to Castlegate and it is clear that progress on the steps needed to both safeguard and bring that area back into productive use is painfully slow.

The last presentation was a gallop through the current position on the writing of the State of Sheffield Report 2018 which is due to be published shortly. This was given by Andi Walshaw, Performance & Research Manager for SCC.

He restated the original remit for the report and outlined the agreement as to what would be in this years report. Four sections were identified for detailed reporting. Safety & security, Democracy & engagement, Social and community infrastructure and Health & wellbeing. Each of these would be 2-3000 words with illustrations. More information can be seen in the presentation on the SCPB website.

An initial draft had been circulated to the board for their comments but Andi highlighted some of their thoughts. On the positive, there was plenty of content to work with, there were interesting new topic areas and there had been good engagement with the guest authors.

Improvement was needed in the following areas. Initial content was different to the 'usual' approach of the report, too much opinion and not enough facts, less reference to sources of information than previous years.

There then followed a brief report on the preparations and comms needs for the publication and launch of the report. The comments from the board largely reflected the editor's comments.

Thereafter the meeting wound up. The presentations can be viewed on the SCPB website. The next meeting is Friday 16th March, more details to follow.

1 comment:

  1. It is to be expected that Heritage wasn't really mentioned. The last scrutiny meeting re flood protection was similar in that respect. There is still a lack of knowledge at Council level of how Heritage is an important asset in regenerating the economy and also complimentary to health and wellbeing and social cohesion as well as boosting performance in under performing schools. The evidence is all there but apparently our Council can't read and certainly don't listen to University experts who want to talk about creating a more resilient economy.