Agenda item

Agenda item

Thriving Communities Strategy 2023-2027

The Cabinet will, at its meeting on 14 December 2022, consider a report on the Thriving Communities Strategy 2023/2027. Cllr Chewe Munkonge, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks, Cllr Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities and Culture, Cllr Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, and Ian Brooke, Head of Community Services, have been invited to present the report and to answer questions.


The Committee is asked to consider the report and to agree any recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet.


Cllr Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities and Culture and Cllr Chewe Munkonge, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks introduced the report which asked Cabinet to recommend Council adopt the Thriving Communities Strategy 2023-2027 as part of the Budget and Policy Framework.  Cllr Aziz highlighted the importance of ensuring the voices of communities are front and centre to the Council’s work and the language of the report was more accessible than previous reports.  She advised that Westminster City Council had recently removed the term ‘BAME’ which she welcomed as a step forward to move away from terminology that classified communities.

Cllr Arshad arrived at the meeting.

Cllr Munkonge drew the Committee’s attention to the strategy which had brought together four outdated strategies that had overlapping outcomes.  He had attended one of the positively received workshops as part of the 10-week Thriving Communities City Conversation which had reached hundreds of partners, community groups and residents.

Ian Brooke, Head of Community Services and Lucy Cherry, Leisure and Performance Manager attended the meeting to speak to the item and answer Councillors questions.

During discussions, the Committee noted the following:

·       Conversations with communities remain ongoing, and Councillors are invited to input into these via their Wards and Parish Councils.

·       Data and insight from partner agencies for health profiling, allowing greater understanding of community needs, have been explored in commencing work in communities.

·       The strategy was purposely ambitious, and as focused on creating a shared purpose working closely with those communities.  It was emphasised that previous reports had been reported as ‘talking at’ people and communities and the report sought to work alongside communities and organisations and work with their expertise.

Cllr Corais arrived at the meeting.

·       Leisure centre contracts expire in 2024, providing an opportunity to review these facilities and how they meet changing community needs, and would explore further opportunities with partners, such as Oxfordshire County Council public health and the NHS.

·       Where work is carried out with partners, it would beneficial to highlight these specifically, and link these to actions highlighted to explicitly answer questions within the report, and adapt the language to make it more accessible to those with English not as a first language.

·       Work with other Councils had been ongoing on use of facilities and green spaces to ensure learning and adaption of good practice.

·       Key programmes with partners in communities included specific work with Leisure For All match funded grants with Fusion encouraging access to leisure facilities ensuring greater inclusivity and accessibility in communities, and also covid support funding with schools which supported those youngsters most impacted by Covid to support with mental health.

·       Community spaces, available through the community grants programme, targeted inequality and identified gaps in provision, ensuring support across the city in tackling inequality.

·       Work would continue to improve the booking access system in leisure centres that supports the needs of all communities.

·       Due to the ongoing resource challenges caused by Covid and rising energy prices, swimming pools had experienced a decline in service, however the Council, along with Swim England, would be lobbying Government for more grants to support these public services, and more comprehensive service contracts were being explored.

The Committee were in agreement that the action plan published on 1 April 2023 be added to the Committee Work Plan for review.

The Committee resolved to make the following recommendations to Cabinet:

1.    That the Council states explicitly in the Executive Summary where changes have been made to our principles or ways of working, by contrast with those existing principles or ways of working that we intend to reaffirm or restate.

2.    That the Council provides greater clarity around partnership working and distribution of work in the strategy by explaining clearly which partners are involved in particular projects and what the nature and level of that collaboration is.

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