To consider the report of the Assistant Director City Development and the Community Involvement and Inclusion Officer.
The Chair welcomed Christine Fraser and Diana Moore of the Exeter Community Forum who spoke about the work that had taken place involving residents and community groups from across the City in developing the Community Strategy and Action Plan for the next three years. It was a long term process and would help to inform the work of the Council in a wider context. They set out the background, process, vision and delivery for the Strategy, including the identification of three programme areas of:-
The Strategy would help inform the release of the neighbourhood portion of the Community Infrastructure Levy fund which, it was estimated, equated to approximately £3.75 million over 10 years. Part of the challenge would be to maximise these funds through investment, match funding and development including “Crowd Funding” and “Love Local Funding”. In addition, £150,000 of New Homes Bonus Community Infra-structure funding was to be reallocated to these funds in order to complement the neighbourhood portion of CIL. It was the intention to use this funding in the next couple of years to support capacity building work with community groups across the city that require investment to enable them to access the CIL neighbourhood funding in future years.
A wide-scale community consultation had taken place involving a number of communities of place and a number of city-wide interest groups which had helped to identify:-
As well as consulting agencies and local groups, the Forum would also consult the ICE project and Exeter City Futures both of which would help lift the aspirations of communities (including young people). A joint promotional event was planned for June.
Responding to Members queries, Christine Fraser and Diana Moore confirmed that some areas have active and well established community groups whilst others need a lot of support, including those areas with greatest needs and areas of new housing developments. Reference was made to the valuable contribution of the Community Organiser (Sue Bullied) working in Wonford and Exwick in helping build a stronger community and develop community initiatives (funded by the City Council).
The Action Plan covered the initial three year period (2016-2019) where the focus was on working to capacity build communities to enable them to take opportunities that are presented by the community strategy – develop community plans and community led initiatives and ultimately be able to apply for much needed community infrastructure through the neighbourhood CIL, and other match funding.
The intention was to review the progress and to continue to develop a further plan for 2019 to 2022. By that time, it was hoped that more high cost innovative projects including capital build would have been identified as well as the possibility of community led service delivery. In this context, the Forum representatives welcomed the suggestion that milestones be identified for the first three years for report back and monitoring by Scrutiny.
The Chair thanked Christine Fraser and Diana Moore for the update as well as the consultants Gerard Couper and Andrew Shadrake of CAG Consultants and Dawn Rivers, the City Council’s Community Involvement and Inclusion Officer, for their work.
Scrutiny Committee - Community noted the report and recommended Executive and Council to:-
(1) welcome and approve in principle the Exeter Community Strategy as a living document that will inform the allocation of the neighbourhood portion of the Community Infrastructure Plan Levy;
(2) welcome recommendations from the Exeter Community Forum as to how to spend the neighbourhood portion of the CIL and the new Homes Bonus allocation;
(3) invites the Exeter Community Forum to put forward a process by which recommendations for spending the neighbourhood portion of the CIL are put to the Council for approval on a periodic basis, taking account of the availability of funds secured in the neighbourhood portion of the CIL and of the Council’s inability to borrow against future CIL receipts;
(4) consult Council officers as appropriate on the future review of the purpose, function and future of the Exeter Community Forum to ensure that it continues to perform the representative role it has developed to date; and
(5) retain, through its Community Involvement and Inclusion Officer, accounting responsibilities in relation to the neighbourhood portion of the April 2015 CIL.