Memorandum by Hartcliffe and Withywood
Community Partnership (GRI 16)
|2.||The contribution of area-based initiatives to broader regeneration initiatives and regional strategies
|3.||The characteristics of successful regeneration schemes
|4.||Involvement of local communities and democratic accountability
|5.||End of scheme arrangements
|1.||HWCP Background Information
|2.||Extracts from HWCP Periodic Review
|3.||Extract from HWCP Capacity Building Evaluation
1. Hartcliffe and Withywood Community Partnership (HWCP)
was established in 1998 to lead the regeneration of the local
area and to co-ordinate the £12.15 million "Working
Together for Change" SRB5 scheme. Controlled by local residents,
it creates a new framework, which is led by local needs and focuses
on locally led solutions.
2. HWCP was recently praised by the South West Regional
Development Agency (SWRDA), "HWCP is a good example to other
schemes in the south-west of community-led regeneration. It is
a model for the future. Managing an SRB regeneration is very difficult
and challenging. HWCP is going in the right direction and is viewed
as successful by the Regional Development Agency".
3. Hartcliffe and Withywood are two post war estates
on the southern edge of Bristol. They now have a combined population
of 20,000. When designed, the estates were intended to be self-contained
and fully serviced. As was so often the case however, the money
ran out and many of the planned facilities did not materialise.
4. Combined with the economic recession of the late 1980s,
the closure of the Wills' tobacco factory meant that the many
people previously dependent upon manual and semi-skilled employment
could no longer find jobs. Public transport links to jobs elsewhere
in the city were also poor and people suffered the added burden
of "postcode" discrimination.
5. The failure of a second City Challenge bid in 1992,
however, coincided with riots which left Symes Avenue, the commercial
heart of the area, ransacked and in a state from which it has
never properly recovered.
6. Hartcliffe and Withywood were, though, able to attract
other smaller amounts of funding which helped contribute to a
long period of capacity building in the local community. As a
result, the local community was able to work with the Bristol
Regeneration Partnership, Bristol City Council and other key agencies
to write a bid for SRB funding.
7. In July 1999, SWRDA awarded £12.15 million from
SRB to help regenerate the area. This is the largest grant to
a local community in the southwest. HWCP has to find "match
funding" from the public and private sector to reach a total
of £32 million overall. The seven-year scheme lasts up until
8. HWCP is working towards its vision of:
9. "A strong local partnership, which will reduce
poverty and exclusion in our diverse community by:
creating opportunities for all to work and learn;
improving our environment now and for the future;
making the area a safe and healthy place to live."
10. HWCP is a limited company with charitable status.
It is run by a 17-strong board of directors, ten of which are
directly elected local residents. It employs four full-time and
six part-time staff. For more information on HWCP see Appendix
1 or our website [www.hwcp.org.uk].
2. THE CONTRIBUTION
11. On paper all area based regeneration initiatives
should be able to make a contribution to wider strategies. Most
do in one way or another. In our view it is the timing of such
initiatives that need to be studied before launching. This holds
particularly true for those initiatives that wish to engage communities
in their management and delivery. In our experience there only
so many community activists in any one area and the duplication
of some schemes, particularly if boundaries and timescales do
not coincide, can overburden already stretched resources.
12. However, an equally, if not more important, question,
is how do broader initiatives and strategies contribute to area-based
regeneration? Our experience of this is very mixed.
13. For example, education and health plans are often
developed at a city-wide level to meet national targets without
properly considering the local impact. For example, proposals
to close a school in the area may meet the local education authority's
need to reduce the number of surplus places, but does not meet
the local education needs of the community. Similarly, a recent
new road proposal in an adjoining authority may well be meeting
transport objectives but it has not fully considered the potential
impact on the economic regeneration of Hartcliffe and Withywood.
14. Major prestigious physical regeneration schemes,
often in city centres, rarely make proactive links with outer
estates to ensure that the benefits of such schemes flow to the
residents in them. Work is needed to overcome real and perceived
barriers (transport, training, cost, psychological and post code
discrimination) to residents of outer estates accessing jobs,
services and facilities in such developments.
3. THE CHARACTERISTICS
15. The central characteristic of successful regeneration
schemes in our view is that of Trust and Local Ownership.
We have witnessed the failure of a local authority-introduced
financial inclusion scheme because they aligned themselves too
closely with an organisation that did not have the financial trust
of their community. After a couple of years gap the same scheme
was introduced in the area successfully but this time with a trusted
16. It may not be appropriate for us to judge whether
HWCP is a successful regeneration initiative or not, though we
believe we are. From our experience key issues are:
Having strong roots within the community, not
being imposed. HWCP has benefited from the work and capacity building
of a lot of local people and organisations.
Being open, transparent and accountable. Having
clear processes which are understood and followed and have been
Being community-led and having a high level of
Having a proactive communications and information
strategy. HWCP produces a quarterly newsletter and annual diary,
which are delivered to every household, regular press releases,
its own website, organises a range of events and promotional activities.
Having good quality staff with the right skills
and supported by good management and financial information systems.
Having the time and resources to do the above.
17. To be successful, community partnerships such as
HWCP have to mange the difficult balance between: community ownership
and involvement; the requirements of funding bodies and funding
regulations; demands of auditors; and the relationships with the
accountable body and the organisations delivering services and
18. It is a continuous struggle resolving the tension
between (a) the time needed to properly and genuinely engaging
with the community (not just token consultation) in identifying
problems, agreeing priorities and developing solutions against
(b) the pressure to meet funding deadlines, spending targets,
local expectations and seeing visible results on the grounds.
19. Community partnerships are at the point where "bottom-up"
meets "top-down", trying to "join-up" government,
local authority and other initiatives at the local level. Initiatives
that nearly always have different boundaries and work to different
timescales. In Hartcliffe and Withywood there is a Sure Start
programme, a mini Education Action Zone, a European URBAN programme
and an LSP proposed neighbourhood partnership, all with different
boundaries to HWCP. Only the SRB5 scheme and the Neighbourhood
Renewal priority area have the same boundaries.
4. INVOLVEMENT OF
20. Involvement of community within local regeneration
schemes has been one of the most recent success stories for the
21. Accountability works on a number of levels.
22. The local resident directors of HWCP are all directly
elected. In the community elections held in June 2002, 4,500 people
voted in 34 per cent turnout, which was significantly above the
local elections (29 per cent) held in the May. Quite simply the
local communities were voting for local people who by and large
they knew! And for an organisation they knew they owned and controlled.
They could make a difference.
23. HWCP has an open structure, meetings of its board
of directors are open to the public (except for confidential items)
and meetings of its theme groups which support the board are open
to all local residents. It has a clear Declaration of Interests
policy and procedures that are adhered to.
24. HWCP works hard to keep people (both inside and outside
the area) informed of its activities and decisions, so local residents
know how the regeneration funds are being spent and the external
perception of the area improves.
25. One of the local councillors is a member of the board
to ensure that links are made and maintained with the democratically
elected councillors in the area. HWCP also reports to the Bristol
Regeneration Partnership, and through that to the City Council
and the Bristol (local strategic) Partnership to ensure there
is also upwards accountability.
26. Finally there is accountability back to the South
West Regional Development Agency, as funding body, through quarterly
reports and returns.
27. Democratic accountability has been something that
HWCP has been working towards for the past three years. You can
judge by the recent community election turnout that the local
community has embraced democracy and it has given them legitimacy
and the partnership they represent.
5. END OF
28. We do hear of squandered grants etc but overall there
is a general feeling that regeneration initiatives can work. If
we think of the mainstream European funding that has and still
is being pumped into our major cities that have suffered with
the shift of large local and national economy sectors we can see
and feel sustainable improvements. Local people from such areas
speak very proudly of their achievements in turning things around.
The same can be said about the smaller regeneration schemes.
29. Towards the end of all regeneration schemes we need
to ensure clarity of exit. Evaluation and monitoring are essential
plus a continuance of support if needed through a practical regeneration
agency that can support those community schemes, which have a
strong possibility of becoming sustainable eventually. There needs
to be a clear and strong commitment from mainstream agencies to
learn the lessons from a regeneration initiative and to pick up
on the successes. This commitment needs to be at the beginning
of a scheme and the work to turn it into action needs to start
early, and not wait to the last few months of a scheme.
30. The real successes of a regeneration initiative can
only be seen in the long-term impacts or outcomes that can be
difficult to measure. Have perceptions of an area changed, both
inside and outside? Do local residents want to stay in an area;
are they proud of where they live; has post code discrimination
ended: can local resident get jobs and credit; do people from
outside want to move to the area; come to shop or work in the
area? One indication of success, though it was not one of our
outputs, has been the rise of house prices locally and there now
being a waiting list for council housing, when it had been hard-to-let.
31. Lessons that can be learnt from the experience of
32. The importance of early capacity building, support
and advanced funding to communities to develop their capacity
to bid for funding and to manage complex wide-ranging regeneration
33. The need for community organisations to receive funding
in advance, and not in arrears, for projects and services they
34. The Treasury needs to relax its rules to recognise
the time it takes to properly develop regeneration initiatives
and to make long-term commitments such as ten years or longer.
Short term funding of two to three years can be counterproductive
by raising expectations, which cannot be met by schemes that by
the time they are up and running are about to wind down.
35. There needs to be greater flexibility to carry forward
under-spends, without them getting lost (and to avoid panic spending
at the end of the financial year). This should include extending
the lifetime of regeneration initiatives to give scope for carrying
under-spends beyond its original lifetime. The hard split between
capital and revenue needs to change. Funding of training schemes,
community safety projects, etc even though they may be revenue
funding are just as much investment in the future of a community
as bricks and mortar.
36. There is a need to "re-engineer" the whole
regeneration appraisal, approval and claims processes. Over the
years in response to individual issues and problems, auditors'
recommendations, etc, additions have been made to the process.
More information is asked for, extra checks are made, but things
are never taken out. The consequence is it has become unwieldy,
complicated and bureaucratic and out of proportion to the sums
involved. It needs to be looked at again from first principles.
37. HWCP supports the employment of local people in the
regeneration of their area, to "grow our own" professionals
and wishes to employ its staff directly. However, it feels that
there should be comparable conditions of employment, including
pension arrangements, with local authority and other regeneration
staff working in the area. This is both an issue of recruitment
and retention of staff needed to delivery a complex regeneration
scheme; and of fairness and equity, in that staff should not be
worse off as a result of working for a community-led organisation.
HWCP recently applied to join the local government pensions scheme.
Although it was considered eligible by the pension fund to have
admitted body status, it was not supported by the City Council,
who argued that it should be a national government responsibility.
DETL view was that it was up to local discretion. In the meantime
HWCP, and the staff who work for it, have been caught in between.
38. SWRDA's Periodic Review of HWCP (see Appendix 2)
raised a number of issues of wider significance.
"Various public sector agencies signed up to and made
commitments over the lifetime of the scheme in the original bid
and delivery plan, which I am not convinced are all going to be
met . . .
As a functionally organised body, the City Council clearly
has problems relating in a `joined-up' way to area based initiatives
and neighbourhood working. If the City Council is to successfully
meet the challenge of Neighbourhood Renewal it will have to change
. . .
Problem of capacity to respond to all the other initiatives
that are happening (eg Neighbourhood Renewal, Local Strategic
Partnership, schools review) . . .
In addition, local residents made strong points about the
jargon, process (but it is getting better), the way the `goalposts'
keep changing, time commitment and the need to increase resident
involvement (and the difficulties in doing this). The HWCP's vision
was still thought to be relevant. The commitment of volunteers,
project workers and paid staff was appreciated. There was praise
for wham! in keeping people informed. . .
A particular issue for the area is a significant drop in
funding coming into the area over a short period as a number of
funding streams come to an end. As well as the SRB scheme ending
in March 2006, URBAN2 funding ends in December 2006. While funding
for `Sure Start' is committed to March 2004 and for the [email protected]
until August 2004 . . .
The difficulties caused, particularly to a community-led
partnership that is trying to respond to local needs, by having
a hard capital/revenue split. There is a strong case for being
able to transfer money from revenue to capital and vice versa
in response to identified local needs . . .
The size of the SRB admin budget (5 per cent + 2 per cent)
is a constraint on the capacity of the Partnership to properly
manage and deliver the SRB scheme of this size (particularly given
the large number of relatively small projects), to set up the
organisation (eg local elections, charitable status) and to ensure
it continues to be community-led (with the high level of resident
involvement and partnership working with other agencies). In many
other areas management fees of 10 per cent15 per cent are
not uncommon . . ."
39. The evaluation of HWCP's Capacity Building Project
(see Appendix 3) made a number of recommendations of wider significance.
"We have already raised a range of issues and lessons
that need to be heard at this level. First and foremost:
Schemes need to be given realistic spending profiles
and the space and time to develop in a sensible and practical
way. Artificial and externally imposed deadlines, milestones and
targets can skew a scheme away from an ethos of community involvement
right at the beginning. Schemes need to be given genuine development
periods, with funding available to do sensible foundation-building
work without the necessity to jump through the SRB appraisal hoop
in order to do anything on the ground.
For example, when a scheme is approved a sum of
money could be made available against the delivery plan to carry
out a discrete range of tasks such as early research, capacity
building, surveys and so on without having to construct a complicated
multi-stranded project like this one to carry out these essential
It is clear that SRB-type appraisal processes
work against clean, single purpose, well-focused projects. The
natural tendency is to bung everything in to a single project
to avoid too many jumps through the hoops!
Appraisal processes need to be rethought and scaled
to reflect the amount of money being applied for. This would help
make it worthwhile to break a necessary but diffuse project like
this one into `bite-size' manageable chunks!
Good research and surveys can improve project targeting and
delivery dramatically. However, pressure to conduct standard baseline
surveys and evaluations too often comes from the SRB hierarchy.
Unfortunately, baseline surveys very rarely `do what they say
on the tin!'
Communities are complex and open systems and the SRB funding
available in Hartcliffe and Withywood represents a tiny fraction
of the investment coming into the area during the lifetime of
the Scheme. To all intents and purposes it is impossible to measure
the scheme against a baseline since it is all too easily derailed
or complicated. This leads to the regular conclusion that it is
too complex to determine the impact that the scheme has hadseen
in most SRB evaluations nationally.
Funding is therefore being wasted finding out that `things
are complicated'we know that already. We need to rethink
our overall approach to baseline surveys and Scheme level evaluation;
and drop the pretence that we can measure and monitor change in
this way. We are not suggesting a move away from measuring or
monitoring, or that we should not focus on identified needs. However,
we need to move towards a more practical and grounded way of doing
thispragmatic surveys and evaluation that helps us make
performance and delivery better today than yesterday. This would
be less useful on a national political level but it would be far
more useful on the ground day-to-day.
HWCP are leading the way in this area. Their baseline is
relatively sound, if under-interpreted, and it can be put to increased
use. . .
. . .Once approved, this project suffered further delays
as a result of RDA scrutiny. Where this happens, and delays become
significant because of letters back and forth, there should be
a `no penalty' readjustment of spending profiles.
So, for example, if Ministers approve spend on
a programme later than expected or the RDA approve a project after
some delay, the programme or project should still be allowed to
run for the same total amount of timerather than having
to attempt to catch up on itself."
8. NEIGHBOURHOOD RENEWAL
40. With the government's Neighbourhood Renewal initiative,
there is a real opportunity for success provided that efforts
of the community to have a real influence over local public services
is mirrored by a commitment from national Government to make sure
councils, health authorities, the police, government departments
and agencies (such as the Employment Service and Benefits Agency)
are directed to engage with the neighbourhood renewal agenda.
Successful bending of mainstream services will also need a change
in approach by national government in setting its targets to service
providers. "Joining-up" at the local level needs to
be matched with "joining up" at the national level.
41. In terms of service provision, the amount of national
targets and service/target specific funding needs to be relaxed
to allow the development of locally determined targets relevant
to the needs of the communities served.
42. In terms of process, clear targets should be set
(with sanctions if not met) around implementing a neighbourhood
renewal approach to engaging with local communities and bending
mainstream services. For example: the number of local service
targets determined in partnership with local communities; the
involvement of local communities in determining service specifications
and letting service contracts; the proportion of the total budget
determined by local neighbourhood partnerships; the level of decision-making
and budget setting decentralised to local communities.