Partnership Scrutiny - Iceni Partnership (Agenda Item 6)
To scrutinise the partnership. A presentation will be made to Members to initiate discussion.
Mr Tony Dickens, Chairman and Ms Vicky Mason, Support Officer, were in attendance to give Members a presentation to mark the tenth anniversary of the Iceni Partnership.
Mr Dickens explained that Breckland Council and Swaffham Town Council had worked to bring people together to form a community partnership. Public consultation had identified the issues that local people were most concerned about: the need for a community centre and the refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms. Funding had been achieved through CER to meet those needs and part of that funding had been to provide for the upkeep and running costs of the buildings.
The Town Partnership had been formed as a sub-committee of the Town Council and included members from other interested groups. All were volunteers, apart from the Town Councillors and Partnership Officers. Their main purpose was community support and four thematic groups had been set up to achieve the goals set out in a ten year plan.
A lot of the Partnership’s efforts went into supporting new start-up groups and helping other organisations with arranging events. Young people had been involved in the design of the Community Centre and money had been raised to set up a Wi-Fi Café. Events had been run to reduce anti-social behaviour and the Partnership had won National awards for Action for Market Towns in 2008 and for Social and Community in 2009.
A Member asked about the Credit Union and was told that Partnership Officers had received the necessary training to provide banking facilities and these were well supported. There were many loan requests, but users were also being encouraged to become savers.
There was concern that the structure of the Partnership supported the town but neglected the villages and Mr Dickens explained that the services and advice were made available to all. The Partnership did want to help villages, but currently they were not coming forward. Recently the Partnership had wanted to promote improved public transport and to be involved in a pilot project to identify the key needs and gaps in the current service. Letters had been sent out to all the local villages asking for interest, but only one had responded positively.
Another Member noted that there had been a much more positive response to the Participatory Budgeting scheme which had attracted 27 bids of which eight were from villages.
In response to a question about the funding for the Youth Worker and other staff it was explained that the Partnership had been successful in bidding for money (Match Funded by Breckland Council) which it had used to purchase some industrial units. The rents from those units, together with money from office rental and hall hire, provided the income which allowed the current level of activities. Ms Mason also noted that the young people had received a grant of £12,000 to run the Youth Club and that money covered the wages of the Youth Worker.
The Chairman was concerned about the apparent lack of a budget and he asked about the Constitution of the Partnership.
Mr Dickens explained that there was a yearly budget but that monies were not specifically allocated to events, as generally, the Partnership was not using its own money for the activities. The Constitution had been put in place by Breckland Council when the Partnership started and was fairly standard for charity organisations.
Finally, the Chairman commented that the Partnership did not seem to be applying for much Match Funding from the Council. He said that there was a pot of money available and the Council was keen to work with the Partnership. He thanked Mr Dickens and Ms Mason for their presentation.