Today David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, announced his plans for a Community Improvement Fund which will allow residents to bid for cash to support projects that improve local areas.
Below is a transcript of the speech to Full Council, given on 13 December 2011.
[Check against delivery]
I’m sure you will agree that these are tough financial times for us all and this is certainly true for local government. But I am certain there is an answer to these challenges and it rests in one word – partnerships.
If we are going to continue to provide first class services to residents while also making savings we have to work even better with other organisations – especially councils.
It is clear that there are enormous efficiencies at our finger tips so we need to grasp the opportunities.
We are already doing some tremendous work in Surrey: Our adult social care teams have moved in with Guildford and Spelthorne borough councils so older people get a smoother service.
Through the Surrey First project we have unlocked the potential for huge savings through pooling back office functions such as HR, IT and procurement.
And we are now also looking at joining up our purchasing operations with East Sussex County Council.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg and I have no doubt even more innovative ideas will emerge so we are able to both save money and improve services.
I believe our job at Surrey County Council is to help communities to come together so they can flourish.
That is why I am delighted today to be able to announce our plan for a special Community Improvement Fund.
The fund will provide £750,000 to projects that promise to improve local areas, make a real difference to people’s lives, and strengthen the ability of residents to independently enhance where they live.
It will give local groups the chance to get infrastructure projects, which promise to provide lasting improvements to communities, off the ground.
It may be a local community group wanting to a build a community centre or a parish council wanting to create an allotment site. Whatever the idea they will now have the opportunity to realise their aspirations.
They will be able to bring us their plans for financial support of between £10,000 and £50,000 so we can consider them.
This fund will support the principles of localism in Surrey – allowing local people to come up with ideas that will improve their communities.
I am delighted that Surrey’s former leader Nick Skellett has agreed to lead the Community Improvement Panel for me, with the support of our fellow county councillors Pat Frost, Peter Hickman and Fiona White.
Local committees will also play an active role in promoting the fund and working with groups to bring forward applications to the panel.
As you know, I am committed to making Surrey the best council in the country. But that will only be possible if we have flourishing local communities.
My vision for Surrey is one where we all work together – whether we are a council, a voluntary group or a business.
We should see ourselves as One Team working to make a real difference to the lives of people in Surrey.
And I am confident this new Community Improvement Fund will do an enormous amount to achieve communities’ aspirations.
Download an MP3 of the Community Improvement Fund speech