Local resident voices to be strengthened with increased focus on Community Network Panels across Cornwall

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet has confirmed proposals to give local people a greater say in decisions and powers to make them at the most appropriate level.

At a meeting of Cabinet today (6 September), a decision was made to strengthen engagement with local communities and give them a greater voice through Community Network Panels (CNPs). 

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Key areas of focus will include:

  • strengthening the links between the panels, Town & Parish Councils, the Council, our wider partners and residents
  • empowering panels by giving them more of a say on important local issues
  • increasing public engagement via the panels.

Deputy Leader Julian German said the decision showed a renewed focus on residents and the places where they live.

“Cornwall Council recognises that we can’t solve all the issues that communities face on our own and so we are increasing our emphasis on elected Members and officers working with Town and Parish councillors, residents and other key partners, through the panels, to help coordinate our activities locally.”

“When we launched our Cabinet priorities in June, we said our values were to listen to and work with the people of Cornwall and to act in the best interests of Cornwall: putting people first. Our devolution and localism agenda also means giving residents and communities a greater say in decisions and making those decisions at the most appropriate level,” he said.

“Community Network Panels are well placed to progress issues of importance to local residents.  What we’d now like to do is increase public involvement in these panels so people can have their say and influence decisions.”

“Our 2016 Residents’ Survey showed fewer than one in five residents surveyed agreed they could influence local decisions – this is a key way we are seeking to change that.”

Actions which will be further explored include:

  • giving CNPs more of a say over specific issues (e.g. strategy, local service delivery and enforcement, local projects such as local transport schemes)
  • using participatory budgeting to give local people a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local requirements
  • enabling CNPs to request that issues be discussed at Overview and Scrutiny and/or Cabinet
  • enabling members of the public to suggest relevant agenda items in advance of CNP meetings
  • improving public awareness of CNPs and sharing outcomes from CNP meetings
  • giving CNPs a more clearly defined role in progressing localism and devolution, including joint working between Cornwall Council, Town and Parish Councils and the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector.

The Cabinet paper was informed by previous reviews and consultation and has been further developed by the Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Edwina Hannaford, who has worked closely with Cabinet colleagues and engaged the Chair of Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Community Network Panel Chairs and the Cornwall Association of Local Councils.

Story posted 06 September 2017