SEF_FutureQuestionDec08

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					Southwark Environment Forum
(SEF): Evolving & moving forward?

              th
On the 20 November 2008, we invited SEF members to a meeting to discuss the future of the forum. The
first part of this document summarises the points of this discussion whilst the second survey part gives
members an opportunity to have their say on SEF and how it could be revitalised and go forward.


                   1. Summary of the changing context (SSEP & capacity issues)


In 2008, as the result of a new performance framework for local government, a Local Area Agreement (LAA)
                                                                  1
was signed between the Southwark Alliance and the Government.

This LAA included ‘stretch targets’ agreed between the Southwark Alliance
(http://www.southwarkalliance.org.uk/) and the government for 35 local priorities (to be met by 2011). These
priorities included the five sustainability ‘themes’ outlined below:

1. Climate change: 8.5% reduction in per capita CO2 emissions borough-wide

2. Recycling: increase in household waste recycled and composted

3. Street cleaning: improvement in street and environmental cleanliness

4. Transport modal shift: reduction in the number of children travelling to school by car

5. Biodiversity: improvement in local sites of biodiversity importance

Although the Council is the lead, the targets will only be met by effective partnership working. The climate
change target is a good example here. The Council is in the process of measuring its own carbon footprint
but based on calculations of other London boroughs, it is likely that it is responsible for only 4-7% of total
borough emissions. Whilst this a significant proportion, it’s obvious that there is no way that the Council
could reduce borough-wide emissions by 8.5% by 2011 on its own. In this instance, since 53% of emissions
come from the business sector, a key priority will be to identify the organisations with the largest individual
footprints – and support them to act.

To coordinate this new way of working, a new Alliance sub-group is needed, and if it is to be effective it must
be made up of organisations with the capacity to deliver significant change. Although efforts were made last
year to encourage these organisations to engage with SEF, this was not successful and SEF, as a
predominantly grassroots group, does not have the necessary delivery capacity. Therefore a new strategic
forum - the Southwark Sustainable Environment Partnership (SSEP) has been set up. The key point about
SSEP is that it will enable the community groups involved in SEF to have a clear voice but will also engage
the larger organisations with the necessary delivery capacity (more information on SSEP below).

In addition to these changes, the Council’s small sustainability team now has to report and develop work
programmes around three other new climate change indicators (relating to the Council’s own carbon
footprint, the progress made to adapting local services and infrastructure and reduction in local fuel poverty).

Unfortunately however, we have no additional resource, which means the team will need to reduce
its administrative support to SEF. Your opinion on alternatives is requested in the questionnaire
below.




1
    For more on LAAs, go to: http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/performanceframeworkpartnerships/localareaagreements/
                          2. More about the new strategic group - SSEP



Remit
The remit of the new group is to:
   o Oversee of the environmental aspects of the Community Strategy and new Local Area Agreement
       (LAA)
   o Monitor implementation
   o Coordinate services between local statutory and other key delivery orgs in borough

Membership
The table below outlines the current SSEP membership:

        Sector                    Member organisation
        Public                    o Southwark Council
                                  o Southwark PCT
                                  o Environment Agency
                                  o Transport for London
                                  o Rep of Southwark Housing Assoc. Group
                                  o London South Bank Uni.
        Business sector           o Better Bankside BID
                                  o Team London Bridge BID
        Community sector          o Groundwork Southwark
                                  o Community Action Southwark
                                  o SEF (x2) (revolving seats?)
                                  o Southwark Transport Forum

SEF presentation on the SSEP
   o SEF can forward 2 representatives to attend each SSEP meeting. These representatives can be
       individual members of SEF or representatives of member organisations and can be permanent;
       serve for a fixed period – or could revolve according to the theme.
   o In addition, the transport forum (which includes Southwark Cyclists and Living Streets as members),
       has a seat as does Groundwork (representing itself, as major provider of biodiversity-related
       services in the borough)
   o The first SSEP meeting in November had representation from Marilyn Donahue from East Dulwich
       SNUB and Alastair Hanton (doubling up as the transport forum rep).
   o These representatives will attend the next meeting in January to report back on an item. After that it
       is up to SEF members how they wish to organise SSEP representation.
   o It is likely that SSEP will meet bi-monthly, on Tuesday afternoons and start to focus on specific LAA
       sustainability themes in turn.
   o SEF might, therefore, wish to forward representatives from organisations with specialist knowledge
       relating to the theme (for example – Dulwich Society and Bankside Trust for a biodiversity themed
       meeting).
   o There is more information about SEF specialist knowledge in the section below.

        Diagram of new partnership structure:


                                                 Alliance


                                            Southwark
                                            Sustainable
                                           Southwark
                                            Env Partnership

                                            Alliance
                                             (SSEP)


                 Climate Change            Southwark                        Southwark
                 Partnership               Environment                      Transport
                 (SCCP)                    Forum (SEF)                      Forum (STF)
                                                     [1]
                                                                             Remit: Transport
                                                                               provision,
                                                                                demand
         Partnership             Remit                                  Members
         Climate Change          Carbon reduction                       200 highest energy consumers in borough
         Partnership (SCCP)                                             (due to launch in 2009)
         Southwark Environment   Energy, waste, water,                  Local community and grassroots
         Forum (SEF)             biodiversity, transport, air quality   environmental organisations
         Southwark Transport     Transport provision,                   Relevant stakeholders
         Forum (STF)             demand management, infrastructure




                        3. What does this mean for SEF going forward?


Whilst the Council need to pull back from SEF, this does not mean either that it does not value the role that it
plays in the borough. In fact, quite the opposite – hence the two seats that SEF will have on the new
strategic partnership.

The Council has also been motivated in part by criticisms of the current SEF format - that it tends to be both
too formal and Council-dominated which both alienates new groups and has led to a declining attendance.

SEF was intended as a way of giving a voice to local community and environmental groups. Since SSEP will
now provide a better mechanism for input into strategic decision-making, this gives SEF members an
opportunity to revitalise SEF (to look at what support etc is needed and whether the current format is the
best way of delivering this).

To support this process of revitalising SEF, the Council has committed to provide the following support:

    o   Free (Council) venues and refreshments for SEF meetings/ events
    o   Support with organising Council or external speakers for meetings/ events
    o   Officer level attendance at meetings/ events
    o   Support with maintaining the membership list (if required)
    o   Coordinating SEF representation on the SSEP
    o   Continuing to involve SEF as key consultative partner

In return for this support, the Council would like to see SEF become more representative of Southwark’s
grassroots environmental organisations and ‘movement’ - actively engaging the new groups springing up
around the borough and acting as a gateway for interested individuals wanting to get more involved in local
environmental activities.

To support this, the Council would commit the following additional support:

    o   A quarterly e-bulletin covering member activities & events (SEF to provide content)
    o   A new SEF webpage to promote the network and member organisations (SEF to provide content)
    o   Support if SEF decided to become a formally constituted organisation and bid for future funding etc




          4. SEF: current membership, strengths, weaknesses and next steps


To inform the discussion about where SEF could go from here, we conducted a review of SEF.

SEF members
The table below contains an audit of the current SEF membership
   o The second column categorises the current (group) membership by their environmental specialism
   o The third column highlights local actors who do not currently engage with SEF.
   o The levels of grey shading (see key below) group the actors into 3 groups i) grassroots voluntary ii)
        not for profit iii) public and private sector.




                                                          [2]
                                                    Local environmental actors in Southwark

         Theme             SEF members                                   Grassroots groups not engaging
         General           Camberwell Society                            People's Republic of Southwark
                           Dulwich Society                               KITE
                           Friends of the Earth Southwark                Peckham Voluntary Sector Forum
                           PCT
                           Peckham Society
                           SE London Greenpeace
                           SOHAG
                           Southbank University
                           Southwark Alliance
                           Southwark Council
                           Volunteers in Action Southwark
         Biodiversity/     Bankside Open Spaces Trust                    Other Parks groups
         green space       BTCV                                          BARGES
                           Friary Environment Network (FEN)              Green Links
                           Friends of Burgess Park                       TRUE
                           Friends of Southwark Park                     Southwark Biodiversity Partnership
                           Groundwork Southwark
                           London Wildlife Trust
                           Victory Community Park / Elba Place
                           Nature Garden
         Carbon            3 Acorns Enviromental Tranformations          Carbon Smart (Sus Energy Consultancy)
                           Dulwich Going Greener                         ECSC (Sus Energy Consultancy)
                           Ecoconsulting                                 Peckham Power Company
                           Peckham CRAG                                  Peckham Solar Lanes
                           SE2 Ltd
                           Carbon Descent
         Waste             CRISP                                         Paper round (recycling)
                           East Dulwich SNUB                             Plastic Bag Free Peckham (FoE)
                           Veolia                                        Found' (shop selling reclaimed furniture)
         Transport         Living Streets
                           Southwark Cyclists
         Food              Fairtrade Centre                              Walworth Garden Farm
                                                                         Green Ventures (food)
                                                                         Southwark Food Grp (FoE)
                                                                         Surrey Docks Farm
         Business          Better Bankside
                           London Bridge BID Company

         Key
                           Grassroots groups
                           Not for profit groups
                           Public sector/ private
                           consultancies

        Notes:
        1.     The table is a snapshot and may omit/ misclassify groups.
        2.     SEF also includes individual members but these are not included since the constitution limits
               membership to groups.


How is SEF performing against its stated objectives?

The Constitution states that SEF’s remit is to do the following:

    The Southwark Environment Forum exists to promote the importance of a quality, liveable, sustainable
    environment for all who live in, work in and visit Southwark by:

     Developing and overseeing the implementation of all of the environmental aspects of the Southwark Community
       Strategy
      Monitoring the effectiveness of the implementation of the environmental aspects of the Community Strategy
      Promoting the importance of sustainability amongst members of the Southwark Alliance, (the Local Strategic
       Partnership), also throughout the wider Southwark business community, voluntary sector and community
       groups
     Co-ordinating a range of services delivered through partner agencies, identifying gaps in provision and
       developing proposals to address them
     To maximise funding coming into the borough for environmental services
     Alerting the wider Southwark community of the financial and environmental costs of climate change and what
       they can do to minimise the effects
                                                             [3]
       Promote and champion the Liveability agenda and raise it’s importance amongst members of the Southwark
        Alliance and the wider Southwark community
       Promote and champion the importance of sustainable transport amongst members of the Southwark Alliance
        and the wider Southwark community
       Act as an information source for environmental organisations within the area.

There was a consensus at the November meeting that some of these objectives (particularly those relating
to overseeing/ monitoring the Community Strategy) were not appropriate for SEF as a grassroots forum
(hence the establishment of SSEP) and that the current constitution failed to recognise some of the key
strengths (such as networking) of SEF.

The section below reviews the achievements of SEF over the past year and strengths as highlighted by SEF
members and other Council officers who use the forum.

SEF key achievements: 2007-8
 Meeting     Topic                                         Member Overview
  Jan-07     LBS Climate Change Strategy                   SEA (Carbon Descent)
   Mar-07    Regeneration                                  Environment Agency (cancelled)
   May-07    Biodiversity                                  London Bridge BID
   Jul-07    Communiting sustainability                    CRISP
   Sep-07    Waste, recycling & Old Kent Road Facility     Dulwich Going Greener
   Nov-07    Street lighting, energy efficiency & light    London Wildlife Trust in Southwark
   Jan-08    pollution
             Hard surfacing & flood risk                   Southwark Cyclists
   Mar-08    Biodiversity & Planning                       Groundwork

  Date        Activity
  Jan 07      Set up new climate change group - Climate Crisis
  2007-8      Climate change pledge and audit
  June 07-    Contributed local events for a Southwark specific leaflet to promote local engagement in London
  June 08     Sustainability weeks – now LoveLondon
  Various     Contributed to relevant consultations (climate change strategy, waste minimisation and sustainable
              design and construction SPD)


SEF key strengths
o Facilitating local networking
o Promoting awareness of local activity / schemes
o Connecting activity/ preventing duplication
o Sharing information and best practice between members
o Representing viewpoints/ concerns of members
o Scrutinising local decision-making & facilitating engagement
o Providing a ‘gateway’ to Council support for new groups/ individuals




                                                          [4]
   5. Survey: How does your organisation want SEF to go forward?


1. Overall, how satisfied are you with the support that SEF provides to your member organisation?
   Please tick one box only

                                                                          Very satisfied
                                                                          Fairly satisfied
                                                                          Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
                                                                          Fairly dissatisfied
                                                                          Very dissatisfied


2. How well do you feel SEF has performed against its original objectives?
   Please tick one box per row


                                                   Definitely       Tend to      Tend to      Definitely   Don’t
                                                   agree            agree        disagree     disagree     know
     Develop and oversee implementation of all
     environmental aspects of the community
     strategy
     Monitor effectiveness of implementation
     Promote importance of sustainability
     amongst wider community
     Coordinate a range of services delivered
     through partner agencies
     Maximise funding coming into borough
     Alert the community of financial /
     environmental costs of climate change
     Promote and champion liveability agenda
     Information source for environmental
     organisations within the area


3. To what extent do you agree or disagree that SEF has provided the following?
   Please tick one box per row

                                            Definitely         Tend to        Tend to       Definitely     Don’t know
                                            agree              agree          disagree      disagree
     Sharing info/ best practice between
     members
     Facilitating local networking
     Promoting awareness of local
     activity / schemes / policy
     Connecting local activity and/ or
     preventing duplication
     Representing the viewpoints/
     concerns of members organisations
     Scrutinising local decision-making &
     facilitating engagement
     Acting as a ‘gateway’ to relevant
     officers/ Council support for groups


4. Would you/ your organisation be willing to take a share in the administrative burden of organising
   and facilitating future SEF meetings? Please tick one box per row

                                                                              Yes
                                                                              No Fairly satisfied
                                                                              Don’t know



                                                         [5]
5. Way forward: Which of the following options would you like to see SEF following in the future?
   Please number your top 3 options in order of preference (1 for first priority etc)

     Options
     1. Business as usual + SEF
     For the Forum to continue in the established format (with quarterly themed meetings) but with
     administration and Chair provided by SEF members (whether elected for a fixed term or
     revolving from meeting to meeting).

     2. Business as usual + Community Action Southwark/ Veolia
     Both these options are dependent on ongoing negotiations. If successful, CAS/ Veolia would
     provide administrative support whilst SEF would elect a Chair.

     3. From a forum to a loose network
     Adapt SEF to become a network (formalising what’s starting to happen already). This would
     reduce the administration needed and so lessen the demand on SEF member organisations.

     Formal quarterly meetings could be replaced by informal networking events (such as Green
     Drinks) and occasional events.

     An further advantage of this option is that it would be easier to include the many new groups
     that have recently sprung up in the borough and are not currently engaging with SEF.
     4. Hybrid model
     Option 3. but with the addition of a formally elected management committee to coordinate the
     network
     5. Formally constituted hybrid:
     Option 4. but formally constituted so that it’s able to seek to funding for a project officer to
     support members
     6. Other? (WRITE IN BELOW)




     Don’t know


5. Do you have any other comments to make? Please write in below




   Your details

   Name ______________________________________________

   SEF member organisation _______________________________

   E-mail ___________________________


   In complying with the Data Protection Act 1998 Southwark Council confirms that it will process
   personal data gathered from this form only for the purposes relating to this consultation.




                                                       [6]

				
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