Know your communities, Fanshawe tells chiefs
Councils must stop “lazily” using terms such as ‘community’ and ‘place’, broadcaster and consultant Simon Fanshawe has urged.
Delivering the ‘provocateur session’ at this year’s Solace Summit, Mr Fanshawe said councils needed to instead focus on finding issues around which residents and businesses could coalesce.
He said he had picked up on some “lazy” use of the two terms in the sessions he had sat in on and heard people using them as if they were single or definable things.
“Notions of ‘community’ and ‘place’, while important, don’t define what you need to do,” Mr Fanshawe said. “You need to find common interests, find things around which people are willing to coalesce.”
This would mean “setting aside those things they are not willing to coalesce around” but did not mean “going for the lowest common denominator”.
He also urged councils to use “fictions” to help define their places, giving Manchester’s status as “the most boastful place in Britain” and Brighton’s as the most diverse as examples.
Mr Fanshawe also said councils needed to stop thinking of themselves as doing ‘service delivery’ and challenged them to match the innovation that was being seen in the field of economic development in the fields of commissioning for services.
“You are about harnessing the energy and assets you have to create a better quality of life,” he said. “If you are going to do that, you need to stop thinking of yourselves as service deliverers.”
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