20th March 2012

The future is local!


Street imageThe countdown to the closing date for the ‘How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together? ‘challenge is on – only 8 days to go!

In the guest post below Brian Wilson,  a freelance consultant who, as Brian Wilson Associates, has worked with the National Association of Local Councils and with Ordnance Survey,  discusses the opportunity for local councils to come up with ideas to transform their neighbourhoods and win funding to make it happen!

The future is local! Well however far you subscribe to that view, it is certainly true that local (parish and town) councils now have some significant opportunities to make their mark, either through actions they undertake themselves or by supporting other groups based in their communities.

Many of the issues listed as within scope for the latest round of the  GeoVation Challenge – that on transforming neighbourhoods – will be familiar to those working in the local councils’ sector.  How to make services more accessible for all age groups?  How to deliver local services with reducing public sector funding?  What more can be achieved by organisations collaborating on service delivery?

Local councils are increasingly being looked at to take on the delivery of services such as maintaining green space, sports fields, play areas and roadside verges or to manage facilities such as local museums, branch libraries, tourist information points and public conveniences.  In the current climate such requests typically come with limited funding.

Yet many local communities are proving resourceful and innovative, either in the way they take on such services or in finding entirely new solutions that address local needs.  Supporting older residents to remain in their homes and within the community; engaging young people in local projects; bringing life back into their areas with community-run shops and services.

With local councils able to access Ordnance Survey digital mapping data for free – through the Public Sector Mapping Agreement – and with well over a 1,000 already having applied successfully to do so, it would be terrific to see some submissions from the sector.

Perhaps some could propose an imaginative way to use digital mapping for neighbourhood planning.  Or might IT-savvy members of Youth Parish Councils be encouraged to come forward with local ideas that use digital maps?  Involving local communities in participatory budgeting exercises feels like another area where digital maps should play a part.  Ditto, using local council websites to promote local enterprises and help residents or visitors use local services.  Over to you!

Brian Wilson.

Brian can be contacted on brian@brianwilsonassociates.co.uk)

If you have ideas – enter the GeoVation Challenge – but hurry, closing date is 28 March 2012.