Distributing funding fairly for community groups and project has always been a tricky one, but East Suffolk Council have new come up with a new scheme which they say will provide critical funding for projects which local people want and need in a more even distribution.
The East Suffolk Community Partnerships have been created to “bring ideas to life” and eight separate partnership groups, covering the whole district, will now each decide how to spend £10,000 this year and a further £25,000 for the next three years, based on one or more priorities which were agreed at a series of community workshops.
In addition, an overarching pot of £150,000 this year and £300,000 for each of the next three years will be available for the partnerships to bid for.
The eight partnerships cover the whole of East Suffolk and are based on natural groupings of communities, using the new East Suffolk Council ward boundaries as building blocks. Working alongside East Suffolk councillors, will be County and town & parish councillors, the police, health bodies, community groups, businesses and other key organisations.
Before Christmas community leaders from eight districts within East Suffolk were asked to come together to determine priorities for their area. At each session, detailed data packs were provided, containing a range of demographic information about each local area. Three priorities were then agreed based on the information provided and input from local people about what is important to them.
These will now be taken forward to the first meetings of the new ESCPs. The first Community Partnership meets on Monday and represents Aldeburgh, Leiston, Saxmundham and villages. The remaining seven will then convene across the next four weeks, with the Felixstowe Peninsula meeting being on 24th February and chaired by Cllr Mark Jepson
Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council, said: “During the consultation on forming the new East Suffolk Council, concerns were raised about the impact of reducing 90 councillors to 55 and the possibility that they may become disconnected from local people.
“The Community Partnerships programme is a direct answer to that concern and each will deliver much needed, focused funding for schemes and projects that matter most to local people. I am delighted that priorities for each partnership have been identified and, in time, our ambition is for them to evolve independently to reflect their local distinctiveness.
“This is an innovative and progressive approach and a genuinely exciting way to deliver exactly what our communities want and need.”
Although each partnership established priorities particular to their own local areas, broad themes emerged across the district, indicating the issues that East Suffolk residents want to resolve. The ‘top five’ are: reducing social isolation and loneliness; active and sustainable transport links; improving mental health and wellbeing; community ‘hubs’, buildings and spaces; and opportunities, activities and facilities for young people.
After all the separate districts have met – the first meeting of the overarching East Suffolk Community Partnership Board will then be held on 16 March. The Board will bring together the eight Community Partnership Chairs with a range of strategic partners – Suffolk County Council, Police, CCGs, SALC, as well as East Suffolk Council. It will be Chaired by the Leader of the Council.
For further information about Community Partnerships, including the ‘data packs’ for each area, head to www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/community-partnerships.