1. Council’s Community Development Strategy
2016 to 2019
Key Extracts from the Community Development Strategy adopted by the Council in 2016
- Connected communities – communities feel connected to decision making processes that affect their lives, to each other, to the public and private sectors, to the council itself and to a wide range of other public bodies who deliver services within their areas
- “Increase of public participation in civic life…… positive change for individuals and groups within the community particularly those who are excluded or marginalised”
- Two significant local documents have driven the focus of this Community Development Strategy forward – the Council’s Corporate Plan 2015-2019 and Council’s emerging Community Plan. These both demonstrate the need for collaboration, partnership working and joined up thinking. They also demonstrate the need for excellent engagement with the local community.
- The aim of the Community Engagement and Involvement Strategy (2016)7 is to provide a corporate framework for developing and implementing creative ways to engage with people and communities that ensures ‘everyone’ has a voice in the Council’s decision making process, particularly the seldom heard groups and individuals, which will ultimately drive up the quality of services and make better use of resources.
- It has defined community development activity as the
“means by which government can be better engaged with local people and communities of interest and support their involvement in improving the neighbourhoods they live and work in. The process enables people to organise and work together to:
Influence or take decisions about issues that matter to them and affect their lives
Define needs, issue and solutions for their community
Take action to help themselves and make a difference”.
- One of the most notable aspect of this and the majority of these other strategies reviewed was the focus on outcomes, on partnership working, on the importance of community engagement, local relevance and targeting need. The Community Development Strategy will ensure this is encompassed into its thinking.
- Examples of Good Practice The work of community services is varied and effective which is demonstrated through the following short case studies. North Fermanagh Valley Park Project …public consultations to form a community consultation report..
- Informed communities – Relevant, accurate and timely information delivered through a range of relevant communication mediums to local groups alongside an accessible staff team to effectively assist and signpost local groups and encourage partnership and collaborative work. As such groups are equipped with good and timely information than assists them to make informed choices about the development of their local areas
- Skilled, supported, resilient and active communities – Communities are at their best when they are active and doing things for themselves in partnership with others.
Supporting communities and building their skills, knowledge and capacity to enable them to engage in collaborative opportunities emanating from community planning and to develop and deliver projects and actions aimed at improving the quality of life of their local areas is one of the core building blocks of the plan.
- Confident, engaged and influential communities – Communities have increased their confidence through being more effectively engaged with decision makers and as such are more influential to effect change in their local areas.
- Resourced communities – communities have access to a range of resources that will assist them to achieve agreed outcomes within their local areas
- Connected communities – communities feel connected to decision making processes that affect their lives.
- Increased capacity of local authority and other agencies to engage with communities – there is an improved awareness of the structure and nature of the sector in Fermanagh and Omagh and a wide range of effective engagement tools with which to engage and work with local communities are used to ensure that this engagement is as effective as possible.
The vision for the Community Development Strategy in Fermanagh and Omagh is
“a thriving, resilient, influential, active, skilled and networked community and voluntary sector that mobilises effective community action, that promotes community cohesion, integration and diversity, that works in partnership with others for the benefit of the area and for the improvement of service delivery and quality of life for all and makes best use of community resources, skills, knowledge and spaces”
“To act as an enabling service and to provide community development support to groups in Fermanagh and Omagh and promote a joined up and partnership based approach to the provision of community development support by Council and others”
- It is now accepted that public services that involve their users are likely to be of higher quality and more relevant to the communities they serve. The plan promotes a concept of Ask, Listen, and Act
- Community empowerment – Enable communities to develop confidence, capacity, skills and relationships to shape collective action and challenge imbalances of power
- Collective action – Promote the active participation of people within communities, using the power of a collective voice and goal
- ‘To build the engagement, networking, lobbying and volunteering skills of local communities to enable them to effectively develop connections and sustainable working relationships with others in order to maximise the opportunities and benefits from working collaboratively on thematic and area based issues”.
2. Economic Development Plan
Economic Development Plan 2016 – 2019 – Fermanagh & Omagh District Counci
Pages 5 and 6
Supporting Village Regeneration
Promote and market the region as a place to shop, work and visit
Develop village renewal schemes and improve physical connectivity between settlements
Develop town/village centre hubs for hot desking to address high levels of commuting
Develop Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) for key settlements and industrial area
Utilise dormant assets
Undertake a dormant asset review across the Council area
Prepare development proposals for key opportunity sites
Develop a property development vehicle to encourage public/private investment (possibly in conjunction with funding from JESSICA/JEREMIE, NI Infrastructure Fund and/or European Investment Bank)
Enhance community capacity
Develop a social economy Task and Finish Group to develop an Action Plan to maximise public sector service delivery opportunities and to enhance the commercialisation of the community and voluntary sector
Develop a programme of support for social enterprise/social entrepreneurs
- Villages and Smaller Settlements: The consultation exercise also identified that it was essential to maintain the vibrancy and service offering of villages and smaller settlements throughout the Fermanagh and Omagh Council area. Although there will still be an orientation towards attracting visitors to these areas and in developing a tourism product to support these settlements, the principal form of assistance will be on ensuring that there is a significant range of local services on offer and how these augment similar provision in adjacent areas.
- Enhance community capacity: The loss of young people and diminishing financial support to community and voluntary groups has the potential to ‘sap community capacity’, particularly in smaller communities. There is a need to re- energise local communities, by identifying/developing existing and new local ‘social entrepreneurs’ and providing them with the tools to create sustainable community led solutions. There is an opportunity to utilise the community and voluntary sector to deliver local services such as sustainable energy, health care, and social support, tourism, telecoms and property management and development, thereby addressing local need and providing a funding source for other community activities. Council and partners will therefore need to identify enterprise opportunities and provide training for the development of sustainable social enterprises across key settlements.
- END of Extracts from Economic Development policy.
- Village Plans – Inc Irvinestowns – were funded by Council – Link to Article
The policy of leasing Necarne to the private sector runs contrary to the commitment given in the final bullet-point to develop community capacity, increase public sector delivery through social economy models, increasing the commercial base for community/voluntary sector organisations and supporting social entrepreneurship.
It also runs contrary to existing NI Executive policies e.g. DSD which seek to encourage Community Asset Transfer (CAT)
In particular, the issue is the failure to consult on the feasibility of the Community Asset Transfer pathway.
3. Tourism Strategy
Extract. from Tourism Strategy
In the UK, the overall number of those who ride has fallen, from 3.5 million in 2011 to 2.7 million in 2015; there has been a decline in regular riders, from 1.6 million in 2011 to 1.3 million in 2015, but there has been growth in the number of riders aged between 16 and 24, rising from 368,000 in 2011 to 403,000 in 2015.
Fáilte Ireland’s 2013 survey estimated the direct economic value of horse-riding as €76m p.a. The survey also identified that equestrianism is of greater interest to the British than to the mainland European markets. Because it is a specialist interest activity it would need careful targeting.
22 Which don’t differentiate between residents and visitors
Fermanagh & Omagh Tourism Development Strategy Final Report, June 2016 14 ROI) offers more interest in horse riding/ pony trekking than mainland Europe, with a core potential of around 400,000 offering a good opportunity to develop this niche for Fermanagh and Omagh.
For horse riding in Fermanagh on the lakeland tourist information website the only place listed is the Forest Stables and it is in Fivemiletown in Co Tyrone! Not in Fermanagh at all!
In the answers given to questions in the “Important Document” section of our website you can see that during the expressions of interest the Council did answer questions =Official doc provided in Important Documents tab- one question asked if the new lease holder had to keep equestrian business going? – but the council said it was ok to abandon equestrian use of Necarne – which was very difficult for all as the council were allowing this to be abandoned after such huge public funding and so much need they dont even know about.
In the Irish Field publication recently, the First Minister Arlene Foster from Fermanagh said that her Department is working on a strategy that will make the very most of the excellent resources and opportunities available in this exciting (equine) and lucrative sector. – it makes us wonder why they are not ensuring Necarne is part of that future strategy at regional gov level.
Meanwhile DARD who are supposed to educate young people about care of the land via their agricultural college sub let the land to a farmer who is allowed to drive machinery all over the cross country course – destroying the surface of the all weather tracks – which are not supposed to be driven on and allow all whole fencing to fall into disrepair and allow japanese Knot weed to grow, and use it to dump (illegally) waste from their college site – all of which the Council as freeholder should be intervening on to protect the historic estate. The Council have not protected the estate in previous lease- lease terms were irrelevant in the past and therefore may well be in the future.
4. Statement of Community Involvement.
(Note: Privatising Necarne and the subsequent changes in the lease are a major change impacting the community and may also be a change of use in terms of planning)
The Council’s Corporate Plan defines our values which include a commitment to being people and community focused, transparent and open and fair and inclusive
Accordingly, we are committed to ensuring that communities are empowered and share a sense of effective participation in the decision making process to improve their quality of life and to ensure we deliver the highest quality services to our customers.
This shared vision of participation in decision making seeks to ensure that: Everyone has an early and informed opportunity to express their views on the development of the District and have these considered before decisions are made.
- A culture of engagement:
People are encouraged to take part in the planning process and have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them.
- Early involvement:
The community should be involved at an early stage in the preparation of local development plan documents and major development proposals.
- Open, transparent, Inclusive and Fit for purpose:
Methods of involvement should be appropriate to the experience and needs of the community and for the type of plan document or application being considered, but realistic in terms of available resources.
- Continuing involvement:
The community should be involved, both formally and informally, throughout the process of preparing local development plan documents and major development proposals.
- Reaching out:
We will employ effective consultation methods to make consultation accessible to all and be appropriate to people’s experience and needs.
Ends – note – The Local Development Plan showed that Irvinestown had no zoned recreation area. Necarne is and has for generations been Irvinestown’s recreation area. However in the answers to questions given by the Council to prospective bidders during the tender process, the Council was asked in Q12. Will the estate have to remain open for amenity walks?
Answer 12 “Proposals will be scored in accordance with the criteria in the invitation (Stage 2: Award Criteria: Pages 16 – 19). Bidders should include whatever uses and services they intend to implement. Please put all critical detail pertaining to your proposal in the business case. This response indicates to us that the Council are leaving it up to who ever the bring in on a lease to decide what they want to do. They clearly know that the estate is used by the community as Indicated in Question 6 when a question was asked Q6. Are there any rights of way across the land on the estate? Answer 6 There are no registered right of way across the property within the red boundary lines, however, the property is used extensively by walkers on a daily basis. So it is not hard to imagine that any new lease holder will, just as in the lease with DARD, may not be required to meet the terms of a new lease as the Council do not seem to want to protect the local community needs or the heritage at Necarne.
5. The Council’s Community Plan
Shared Values and Principles underpin the Vision and will cut across all of the themes and outcomes to be achieved. These are:
- Openness, accountability and transparency
- Equality, inclusivity and diversity
- Addressing deprivation
- Prevention and early intervention
- An evidence based approach
- Effective engagement
- Continuous improvement
“Our outstanding natural environment and cultural and built heritage is enhanced and sustainably managed”
- Our people have improved physical health and mental wellbeing
- Our communities are vibrant, resilient and empowered
Our district is an attractive and accessible place
Key priorities identified from public engagement undertaken in 2015 are listed below:
- Improved health and well-being
- Planning for an ageing population
- Addressing inequality and deprivation
- Improving community safety andinclusivity
- Enabling communities to be more sustainable and to provide/manage services for their communities
- Increasing employment levels and employability
- Growing and diversifying the economy
- Supporting sustainable physical, digital and mobile connectivity
- Managing and protecting our natural and built heritage sustainably
10.Supporting a low carbon area
11.Towns which are attractive and accessible for living, visiting and working
12.Regenerated, revitalised rural communities
6.2 Shared Values and Principles
Community planning partners will promote the following shared values and principles:
(i) Openness, accountability and transparency
Open, accountable and transparent governance and decision making arrangements will be put in place alongside effective scrutiny arrangements; effective monitoring and measurement of progress will be evident with regular and meaningful public reporting.
8e. Protect, manage, conserve and invest in our built heritage and reduce the number of buildings on the buildings at risk register
8f. Promote and build increased local appreciation of, and access to, our natural, built and cultural heritage assets.
Measuring Progress ….
P28 Our communities are more vibrant, resilient and empowered
Indicated by” “The proportion of people who feel they have an influence on local decision making“
Page 29. Our outstanding natural environment and cultural and built heritage is enhanced and sustainably managed
Indicated by; The number of buildings on the Buildings at Risk (NI) register.
Our district is an attractive and accessible place
Indicated by; The length of publicly accessible walkways across the countryside
Economic: Page 34
The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. This should be promoted as part of a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem.
6. Disability Plan
Access to the Environment
Maximise use of statutory powers available in the Building Regulations to secure best practice in the provision of facilities for people with disabilities.
Secure wherever possible a barrier free built environment for new, altered buildings and public area
Work with local disability groups to identify how to improve access to the countryside and specifically the main walks.
A rolling programme of improvements to accessibility of existing walks and the development of new walks.
Continue to implement the Inclusive Fitness Initiative
Improvements to the health and well-being of people with people with disabilities through participation in sport
Provide opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to enjoy sporting activities. Yearly programme will be provided