Local Government Magazine

Councils need new contracts with communities

Coventry City Council chief executive Dr Martin Reeves warns that the old model for public service is “inherently broken” and councils need to work very differently with their communities from now on.

He says many of the changes in the UK are being driven by huge funding cuts and citizens’ rising expectations. “That requires a fundamental shift in the type of leadership in public service in the UK and, I would argue, globally.”
Martin will be a keynote speaker at the 2015 SOLGM Annual Summit in Palmerston North early next month. He reckons now is the time for local authorities to completely reshape the way in which places are led.
Part of the new model will rely on councils stepping back from delivering many of their current services and co-creating them alongside community members.
“We should be delivering those services that are absolutely for the most vulnerable,” says Martin, “while the rest of the delivery will be co-designed and delivered with people: not at them…
“We can inspire communities: get in there, give them the tools and techniques to be much more resilient for a very different kind of future.”
He says this is a “really tough” change.
“But we’re right at the fulcrum of exactly these kinds of conversations because there is no plan B.”
Many councils in the UK have had their funding cut by 50 to 60 percent since 2010. The possibility of even more cuts is on the horizon.
Earlier this year a PwC report The local state we’re in said the long-term outlook for the local government sector is “more uncertain than ever” in the UK.
“Local authorities are facing challenges on all fronts: financial pressures continue while demand and public expectations grow, alongside concerns about councils having the capacity and capability to respond.”

More in Local Government Magazine’s November issue.


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