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Written - Local Vision - Statutory Guidance on Developing and Delivering Community Strategies

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Community strategies are intended to bring together all those who can contribute to the future of communities within a local authority area.
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Brian Gibbons, Minister for Social Justice and Local Government.

Background

Local authorities are under a statutory duty to prepare 'community strategies', for promoting or improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in the UK. The process for preparing such strategies is known as community planning.

Community planning needs to develop a long-term strategic vision for local authority areas and their populations. It should be based on a thorough analysis of needs, priorities, and opportunities for addressing them following an extensive collaboration with partner organisations and engagement with local people. The strategy that results should set a 10-15 year vision, informed by the strategic priorities set out in, ‘children and young people's plans’, ‘health social care and well-being strategies’, ‘local development plans’ and other major plans and strategies.

Community planning is thus central to our public service reform agenda. It is one of the principal means for improving collaboration between local service-providers as well as involving citizens and communities in shaping the future of their areas.

Revised Guidance

It is against that background that we have produced revised statutory guidance community planning. This guidance, and further information on community planning, is available at our website.

The guidance builds on the experience of community planning in Wales since 2001. This has demonstrated some strengths in terms of commitment to, and engagement in, the process. There also needs to be a sharper focus and a greater sense of deliverable reality if community planning is to maximise its potential. The revised guidance seeks to do that. It is not prescriptive, providing considerable freedoms for local partnerships to define, agree and then deliver community strategy priorities within a broad national framework.

Local partners are naturally best placed to decide on local priorities in this way. However, it is essential that they then act on them. There is no point in conferring local freedom if that freedom is not fully exercised for the benefit of local people and communities. The new guidance thus places a strong emphasis on working together to deliver improved well-being, rather than merely describing what it would look like.

The guidance was developed in close collaboration with many partners and following extensive consultation, which demonstrated widespread support for our approach. That support now needs to become a reality. Following the local elections, every local authority and their partners need to give high priority to revising and refreshing their community strategies in line with the new guidance. They then need to set about delivering the commitments in it, and thus improving well-being for all citizens and communities in Wales.