Headlines: January 21st, 2003

The Government is being told today it needs to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to rebuilding community. The call comes from the Institute for Public Policy Research which is launching major new research into strengthening local communities.It says improving public spaces, ensuring safe and secure neighbourhoods and developing trust between residents and public authorities are essential to re-building communities and improving people’s quality of life. The report also argues that despite public support and being highly vocal about the need to support community, the Government has not so far released substantial new funding to help these areas.

The IPPR says The Urban Green Spaces Task Force report only succeeded in releasing 500 million pounds for new investment over five years and no new mainstream funding has been announced to help support the aims of the Community Cohesion Unit, despite the time which has passed since the riots in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham.

Dr Victoria Nash, senior research fellow at IPPR and author of the report says, “The Government’s commitment to community has led to some more effective joined-up thinking, for example the Urban Green Spaces Task Force, the Community Cohesion Unit and a new focus on public space. However, these three initiatives exactly demonstrate that what is needed now is the money to make them work.”

The research is based on detailed case studies in three areas of Coventry with different social and economic conditions. It finds that, as well as providing new funding, the Government should systematically assess the potential impact that new policies will have on local community. Without “community proofing” new policy, IPPR argues, government attempts to support communities tend to be piecemeal at best and at worse they backfire.

‘Making Sense of Community’ identified recommendations in five key policy areas – planning and development , provision for young people, crime reduction and policing, design and liveability and methods of delivery. These included requiring MPs and councillors to spend time living in the areas they represent, rewarding developers who embrace sustainability and the modernisation of what was the youth club movement.