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The Importance of Change: What’s in it for Local Government and Communities? Dr Bligh Grant UNE Centre for Local Government.

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Presentation on theme: "The Importance of Change: What’s in it for Local Government and Communities? Dr Bligh Grant UNE Centre for Local Government."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Importance of Change: What’s in it for Local Government and Communities? Dr Bligh Grant UNE Centre for Local Government

2 Change? Potentially, lots of it in NSW Local Government Sector At least 5 major review processes: 1.‘Destination 2036’ Consultative Reform Process;Destination 2036 2.Local Government Acts Taskforce to ‘rewrite’ the 1993 Local Government Act (NSW) and the 1988 City of Sydney Act;Local Government Acts Taskforce 3.Independent Local Government Review Panel;Review Panel 4.NSW Planning System Review +Green PaperPlanning System Review 5.NSW Auditor General’s Monitoring Local Government ReportMonitoring Local Government Report

3 Summary:  All of these potential changes are imposed UPON local government, rather than being initiated BY individual local governments;  Australian local government is generally treated as expedient (or instrumental) rather than political (or ethical) in its own right (historically understandable – see A.J. Brown [2008]!!);  Even claims about local democracy (‘local voice’ + ‘local choice’) are grounded in the allocation of preferences, rather than being about politics, properly conceived.

4 ‘Place-shaping’ + ‘Localism’ as Political Ideologies  Internationally (U.K., derived from the U.S.A.) big push for ‘identity’ or ‘ideational’ politics based on place to be a part of local governance, LED BY local governments (larger, fiscally empowered local governments) with  Strong leadership and  Devolution of authority to LGs.  Easy to be cynical about this (devolution of authority = cost shifting).  However: Potential has been demonstrated in case studies (as I hope to show...).

5 Legislative basis for ‘place-shaping’ in Australia  ALG are ‘creatures of statute’ and as such subject to arbitrary reconfiguration + oversight;  HOWEVER: LGB in ALL Australian jurisdictions are now required to produce Community Strategic Plans (i.e.: 10+ year ‘visions’) as an element to complex, inter-jurisdictional planning ‘webs’ (Grant, Dollery + Kortt, 2011);Grant, Dollery + Kortt, 2011  Interesting inter-jurisdictional comparisons (‘institutional mimesis’, or COPYING);  Again, room to be cynical about this (how much planning is too much?; ‘Tyranny of Community’?)

6 Case Study: City of Greater Geraldton, WA  One of 7 finalists for the Reinhard Mohn Prize (award offered by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German philanthropic organisation. ‘Geraldton 2029 and Beyond’ for ‘Vitalising Democracy through Participation’ (157 entries).  Initially, Bligh was EXTREMELY SKEPTICAL about this project:  Had all the hallmarks of an expensive, outsourced community plan;  International consultants employed (e.g.: Charles Landry, author of The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators (2008)  What does creativity have to do with a mining boom??

7 City of Greater Geraldton, WA

8 1. Spatial + Socio-economic Characteristics  Result of two consecutive AMALGAMATIONS:  City of Geraldton and the Shire of Greenough in 2007;  City of Geraldton-Greenough with the Shire of Mullewa  City of Greater Geraldton in July 2011 – i.e.: ANTI- IDENTITY FORCES  Significant Economic Growth due to mining boom, e.g.:  mean taxable income increased by 14.6% in Geraldton- Greenough and by almost 40% in Mullewa (ABS, 2009/10).  Private sector homes increased by 44.5% in Geraldton- Greenough and a recorded $180,000 or an increase of a factor of 6 in Mullewa (ABS, 2009/10).  Worried about social problems a la The Pilbara

9 2. Legislative Framework: Fabricating Community? The information required, processes and outputs of Strategic Community Plan development are detailed below What do I have to gather?What do I do?What do I end up with? Identified community well-being issues Community engagement – stakeholders, methods Strategic Community Plan (10+ years) -Vision - Priorities - Objectives - Strategies - Assessment.  Identified services expectations  Identified asset expectations  Identified land use expectations  Identification of how we know the plan is succeeding  Informing strategies. Identified social inclusion issues Community long term visioning and priority setting Internal strategy and research on emerging trends Strategy and research of trends and long term impacts Demographics State/National legislation or policy Review and understand the interdependencies between community planning, services, assets and land-use Known State/National events that may impact Local area/place-planning processes Local area/place planning information Quadruple bottom-line analysis: Social, Economic, Environmental, Civic Leadership Changing external factors such as global events that may impact on WA/community Review and understand broad resource implications of Strategic Community Plan Strategic community plan reviews

10 3. Community Engagement in Geraldton 14 other government agencies + members of ‘community’ + media (local paper) + consultants;  Community Champions’ running ‘World Cafes’  Deliberative Survey Poll  Online deliberation with the City Staff and Community  Participatory Budgeting – Preliminary Phase  Youth Online Involvement  21st Century Town Hall Meeting  Alignment of the Strategic Plan and the Budget  Community Champions – ‘Open Space Technology’ training for facilitation

11 4. Strategic Directions (x 10) and Recommendations 1. Welcome and facilitate all sectors of the Community to participate in the City’s cultural life, e.g.: Develop an ‘Ageing Together’ plan; 2. Deliver access to facilities to support those living in, visiting and working in a creative City, e.g.: Develop an Art Civic Studio for families 3. Promote the City of Geraldton-Greenough as a ‘City for the Arts’ and as a Regional recreational hub, e.g.: Develop and stage a ‘Windfest’ to celebrate and promote Geraldton’s unique landscape and lifestyle 4. Diversify the economy, e.g.: Develop a Technology Park

12 Strategic Directions + Recommendations 5. Protect Geraldton-Greenough’s distinctive physical character... Heritage... and identity, e.g.: engage community members on the planning and design teams for recreational and public spaces 6. Attract investment by creating live/work zones for artists, e.g.: encourage the development of affordable housing and live/work space for artists and curators 7. Stimulate trade through cultural tourism, e.g.: develop an Indigenous Cultural Tourist Centre 8. Attract, facilitate and maximise the benefits of major City events and festivals, e.g.: bid for Australian Travel Writers Association (ASTW) AGM

13 Strategic Directions + Recommendations 9. Engage Youth, e.g.: develop a Youth Media Organisation 10. Connect Creative Rural Communities, e.g.: employ a Rural Community Development Officer who is based rurally who works in collaboration with the other CDOs and in partnership with regional stakeholders SO WHAT DO WE MAKE OF ALL THIS???

14 Critical Reflections 1.Feels very much like a wish list; 2.Actual outcomes still to be assessed; 3.Significant transaction costs AND opportunity costs involved; 4.‘Dialectic of community engagement’ and ‘tyranny of community’ still represent forceful arguments; 5.‘Place-shaping’ in this sense is not an egalitarian model of reform

15 Generally: Bell and Hindmoor (2008, 139): –‘best case’ scenario for CE, where ‘such consultation becomes an on-going dialogue involving mutual learning and accommodation’, is precisely that: a best-case scenario. Alternatively: –‘at its worst, CE is tokenistic and creates a sense of betrayal when communities believe that their views have been ignored’. –City of Greater Geraldton’s CE process will, in all probability, fall between these two extremes. –Nevertheless, at its most immediate, the process presented here suggests that community engagement can do much to engendering regionalism from the local level.

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