Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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Locality Partnership Boards herald in new era of cooperation

by Ian Shires on 18 May, 2017

Special Cabinet: Thursday 18 May 2017 @ 6.00 pm @ Walsall Council House.

Agenda Item 4:  Localities Delivery Model

Councillor Ian Shires (LibDem) said:

From the outset the aim of this administration has been to provide strong and stable leadership. It is our goal to lay down the building blocks on which to provide radical solutions to tackle the inequalities which that exist now and have existed for far to long stunting the growth in opportunities for large swathes of Walsall’s communities..

Over this past year we as a coalition of Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors have worked together to produce Walsall’s first Four Year Financial Plan built around a new corporate vision which has resulted in the adoption of the Walsall Plan by the borough’s Strategic Partnership.

Through this work we have ensured that the findings of the strategic review of health inequalities chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot under the title of – Fair Society, Healthy Lives has acted as a golden thread linking all the Partners across Walsall’s Strategic Partnership. The objectives of the review ensure that everyone gets something but more goes to those areas where there is more deprivation. We are determined to create the conditions where everyone can be the best you possible and that where you live should not determine what your life chances are.

Walsall has a strong history of partnership working where the various partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors recognise the strength in working together to achieve shared strategic goals.

None of Walsall’s partners have escaped the impact of the ongoing austerity that exists and the pressures that this is placing on budgets. For many this is coinciding with a period of increased demand for services reflecting the borough’s increasingly dependent population along with the impact of national Welfare Reforms.

Because of these added pressures partners have reviewed the way in which they operate across the borough. The council currently has a six Area Partnerships model whereas most of the partners have moved towards a four Localities model making this the opportune time for us to revise and reshape our delivery model in order to tackle the needs of residents and businesses alike in a more effective way. What comes from this has to be affordable and sustainable.

In developing our revised model we needed to take into account the organisational needs of our partners:

  • West Midlands Police
  • West Midlands Fire Service
  • Children’s Services
  • Early Help Locality Partnership Panels
  • School Partnerships
  • Adult Social care
  • GP Clusters
  • Community Nursing
  • Walsall Housing Group

Back in October 2016 discussions with Walsall’s Strategic Partnership agreed the Localities as shown in section 3:2:2 of the report, were the most logical as Local Partnership Panels already operate on a four geographic area basis as shown. These Localities are based on existing Ward boundaries where existing Area Partnerships can be merged and take into account physical barriers such as the M6 and open spaces. Each Locality has at least one town or district centre. Probably not so obvious, but interestingly the four proposed Localities are more equal in terms of population and potential demand for services than is indicated by their physical size.

The existing Area Partnership model based on six areas across the borough is out of step with other operating models. Area Partnerships have been operating since 2013 and although there have been some good outcomes, in the main there has been disappointment at the lack of partner involvement which is due to some extent to this geographic mismatch.

In developing proposals for the four Locality model much concern was voiced about the future involvement of our town and district centres. These are important, not just at the local level, but across the wider region. By their very nature they are predominantly the locations of our retail businesses. To address these concerns it is proposed that a future Locality Management Team would continue to focus on engaging with the retail sector.

3.6 in the report sets out what the four Localities model would look like in practice and how the governance arrangements would function.

Each of the four Localities have an operational element where multi agency professionals work together to support the vulnerable. There will also be a strategic element where we, as elected members, will work with representatives of the partner agencies and community leaders to develop community engagement and create a Locality Plan.

Locality Managers will provide the support and make the links between both elements of the plan making the connections to the thematic Boards operating at the borough wide strategic level.

Year one will concentrate on piloting the new operating model in order to see how well it operates in practice. This will allow time for everyone to become familiar with and understand their new roles. Members’ views will be sought and a full review will be carried out towards the end of the first year.

Touching on the operational element of the Locality Model first, the Locality Panels will be where the Partner Agency professionals will operate. This to all intent and purpose is already up and running, one final element is needed to complete the process. We need to get the Locality Manager role in place in order to provide that all important link between the Strategic and Operational elements.

The evolving operational element will build on what already exists across the borough – wide Strategic Partnership which is currently focusing on vulnerable people. With the passage of time this will develop and incorporate more issues around vulnerable places. This will require a different set of professionals joining in the conversations. As a result the structure of Locality Panel meetings will evolve as their remit expands.

This element of the Locality model will operate on a monthly cycle.

Moving to the element which will probably interest elected members and members of the public more, that of the Strategic side of Locality working or to give them their correct title Locality Partnership Boards (LPBs). The membership will be drawn from elected members, other Public and Voluntary Sector Partners along with business representatives. The actual composition of the LPBs is subject to consultation as is the role and functions of Board members. It is important to recognise that our Partners see these meetings as a forum to mutually hold each other to account.

The focus of the LPBs will be on identifying how the strategic priorities for the borough as set out in the Corporate and Walsall Plans will be expressed in each of the Localities with their own subtle differences based on the demographics for each. All this shows a strong sense of Partner buy in at an appropriate level sufficient to influence Partners’ budgets and delivery systems. There is a strong commitment from Partners to provide staff of an appropriate level to play an active role in the business of the Boards.

The role that members play in all of this is vital. We are the democratically elected representatives of the people. It is our job to ensure that the people we represent are able to feel that their needs are being met and that the vision of a vibrant and sustainable community sector becomes a reality.

Partner funding has been secured to help build capacity within the sector. One Walsall has been re-launched to operate on the same four Localities as the Boards and they will be the driving force in developing creative community owned meeting and engagement processes. The Active Citizen Fund launched by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner last year and is administered by Walsall College, Walsall Voluntary Sector and Walsall Police and has already identified a number of projects for the community. A similar commitment to funding has been given for the coming financial year.

There have been one or two adverse responses from members to the consultation but in the main they have been supportive and there have been some interesting suggestions put forward which are being evaluated as we speak.

On that positive note I would like to move the recommendations as set out under 2.1 to 2.4 of the report.

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