Some Reflections on Kerslake - community engagement

Ok,,, so not ideas as such, but I wanted to highlight some of the interesting themes that have come out of the recently published Kerslake Review and the opportunities I think these present for our city. 

Kerslake identifies the large number of Cllrs we have in Birmingham, 3 per ward and the large size of our wards - and hence a great challenge for Cllrs to been seen, to listen and engage with residents.  120 Cllrs also takes a lot of support from BCC officers and costs money. Kerslake's recommendation for smaller wards with 1 Cllr seems to me to make sense.  As a Birmngham resident its confusing having several contacts per ward, 1 Cllr sounds like a positive way to encourage community engagement and to save some money!

Kerslake also identifies problems that have been experienced in running the districts as service delivery bodies, this does not seem to have worked and has been expensive and has created significant overspends.  I agree with Kerslake, lets make the districts more about community engagement and influence and civic agendas! But we need to think beyond traditional meetings and who we really need to engage to identify local priorities and lobby the Council to respond to these. 


Why the contribution is important

Its important because local people do not feel heard by the Council and do not feel their issues are responded to. Money needs to be saved and whilst the Council has obviously sought to increase local engagement and create locally responsive services through the Districts this does not appear to have worked.  Its time to fix the problem and not to get fixed into arguements about whether this type of devolution has failed and Party politics!


by BrumMum on December 11, 2014 at 09:06AM

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  • Posted by APublicServant December 15, 2014 at 11:03

    I agree that 1 councillor per ward provides a clear focus for community engagement into the political system
  • Posted by Brummie38 December 16, 2014 at 06:39

    I like the idea of 1 clear councillor per ward, but a couple of practical issues:

    1. What if you really don't like their politics? Eg if a racist party won a seat, where would the affected minority ethnic residents look for support?

    2. Would need smaller wards - 25,000 people is too much even for the most committed councillor.

    3. Some councillors are great at community engagement, other not so much. Some training and development would help. But maybe also they could focus/help eachother informally across wards ("I'm great at holding service to account, you're great at community engagement - so let's ahare our skills"
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