Skip to main content

Connecting Communities

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

I can today inform Parliament about a plan to reinvigorate and connect with those communities that are feeling the pressure from recession most acutely and ensure they are well placed to share fully in future prosperity and emerge stronger and more cohesive.

In recent years substantial investment has transformed large parts of the country. But this investment has taken place against a background of wider changes which has left some communities feeling under pressure.

Around 100 areas of the country have been identified as the focus of a targeted programme of work that will focus on alleviating those pressures and making sure that real help is available.

Practical actions delivered on estates and streets will focus on developing a real insight into what is happening in those communities and introduce changes that will address local people's concerns, reconnect them with jobs and tackle the real and perceived sense of unfairness some people are feeling.

I can today name the first 27 neighbourhoods across 21 local authorities that will be involved in the initial phase of this £12 million programme of local intensive engagement that will connect communities.

Each area will draw up specific plans to address local challenges. While the responses will vary from place to place they are likely to focus on three key areas:

Leadership The quality of leadership will be critical to success in this area. Complex challenges require exceptional leadership. In order to allow people to feel they are being heard, there is a need for honest and open debate to explain how decisions are made. Where decisions are contentious leaders need the skills and confidence to challenge misconceptions and respond with action where needed. There will be support for training leaders; and also the other front line staff and community activists who need also to know and shape the emerging strategy for each area.

Giving people a voice Local people must have the chance to express their worries and know that someone will act on their behalf. I want to enable an open debate about what the challenges really are in these areas—even if this raises difficult and uncomfortable issues. This means giving people the space to air their grievances to political and community leaders. Alongside measures to increase the visibility of more formal leaders, individuals will be encouraged to act as community champions or tenants and have a bigger say in local issues. This will help build up the confidence and self-esteem of residents so that they feel that they can regain control over their estates, their lives and their futures.

Increased opportunities More particularly, raising awareness of the opportunities already available in the area—whether that is investment and regeneration, jobs and skills, childcare and youth services, education and healthcare, or efforts to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. Measures like the Future Jobs Fund need to be delivered in ways which clearly respond to local priorities, shaped by the people whose lives it will affect.

The areas have been identified by examining a range of hard and soft data around cohesion, deprivation and crime, perceived unfairness in the allocation of resources and feedback from people working locally.

Connecting Communities Areas

GO Region


ILE Area



Bury Green Ward

King's Lynn

North Lynn

East Midlands


New Parks


Abbey Ward




Barking & Dagenham






Cray Valley & Mottingham


Colyers & North End

North East




Castle, Redhill & Southwick

North West

Blackburn with Darwen

Little Harwood

Cheshire West and


Ellesmere Port


Cleator Moor



West Midlands


Kingstanding, Stockland Green &



Druids Heath, Brandwood Ward


Bartley Green & Weoley




Burslem & Shelton


Milton Keynes

Tinkers Bridge, Woughton Ward

South West

North Somerset

Western-Super-Mare Central Ward


Bourne Valley, Rossmore


Park Ward, Walcot East

Yorkshire & Humber

N Lincolnshire

Caistor Road Estate, Barton Ward


Park Ward, Walcot East

Yorkshire & Humber

N Lincolnshire

Caistor Road Estate, Barton Ward