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ASPIRATION                                 PROGRESS

Build partnerships with community groups   Within the Local Strategic Partnership, the Solihull Council for Voluntary
                                           Service (SCVS) leads on building partnerships with community groups. It is
                                           estimated that there are more than 500 voluntary organisations at work within
                                           the Borough. They range from large service providers like Age Concern to
                                           scores of self help groups. Voluntary organisations, collectively, are a major
                                           area of public service provision and an important channel for many citizens to
                                           contribute to local public life.

                                           The Council is looking to further support this work through the recent
                                           appointment of a Community and Voluntary Relations Manager. The Local
                                           Strategic Partnership has agreed a Compact, between itself, the voluntary
                                           and community sectors and the Council. The Compact aims to define and
                                           strengthen the relationships by establishing a number of principles which
                                           everyone has signed up to. The Compact is only the start, but provides a
                                           basis for further developing these relationships in support of the Community

                                           The LSP Executive has identified area where statutory partners can give
                                           greater support (e.g. offering training surplus places).

                                           Comment: initial feedback suggests that this is an area which requires
                                           greater attention. The re-freshed Community Strategy will contain specific
                                           action points with regard to how the LSP can support the voluntary and
                                           community sectors.
Take active steps to ensure that local people The SCVS has a role in establishing new ventures; Solihull Carers Centre
have access to affordable legal information being a recent example. Presently, SCVS is seeking to establish a Borough-
and advice.                                   wide credit union.

                                             There is a myriad of activity both within the voluntary and public sector in the
                                             Borough which is helping to create a more inclusive and community focused

                                             Although the Legal Service Partnership has been put on hold, the three
                                             Citizen’s Advice Bureaux have been active in obtaining debt and welfare
                                             advice franchises from the Legal Services Commission.

                                             The Council’s Trading Standards service provides free advice, assistance and
                                             information to residents regarding goods and services. In 2004/05 they
                                             received 5,275 enquiries via e-mail, letter, by phone, even by text message.

                                             Comment: there is a need for a clearer view about what support should be
                                             given in future.

Encourage greater participation in groups Update to be given at the meeting
and organisations
Take advantage of external funds to improve In 2004/05 work was undertaken to attract external funding into the Borough.
community life, particularly in north Solihull This resulted in a wide range of projects receiving funding including building
through initiatives such as Fair Shares.       nurseries, supporting people back into training and work, improving sporting
                                               and leisure facilities and funding to help communities celebrate special

                                                Comment: it is recognised that there is scope for statutory partners to offer
                                                more support - this will be reflected in the new Strategy.

Deliver high quality housing support services   The Council has worked with partner organisations such as the Primary Care
                                                Trust and housing associations to develop new, community based, supported
                                                housing in the borough. For example, in April 2004 a supported housing
                                                scheme for young parents was opened. Other developments have included
                                                the redevelopment of existing buildings, providing 17 flats with support, and
                                                achieving planning permission and funding for two further schemes –
                                                additional 19 places of supported accommodation.

Review the Council’s housing allocation Review completed and the Council’s allocations policy has been amended to
policies in the light of new homelessness reflect the legislative changes arising from amendments to the 1996 Housing
legislation.                              Act and the introduction of the 2002 Homelessness Act.
Identify pupils needing special educational 2% of children have statements. There has been a 99% turnaround in
provision and make provision for them processing statements within 18 weeks. The number of statements has
locally.                                    increased since May 2003.

                                              Pupils with Special Educational Needs continue to be important with all SEN
                                              statements issued within the statutory guidelines. Work had begun to build
                                              the Solihull Centre for Inclusive Learning (SCIL) this will provide two new
                                              purpose built special schools at one location.

Reduce class sizes without compromising All Infant classes have 30 pupils or fewer, in line with the statutory
quality and standards                   requirement.

Improve access for disabled people to an
increased      range   of    employment Within the Borough the key programme delivering support to disabled people
opportunities.                           is New Deal for Disabled People. This voluntary programme is run through
                                         Jobcentre Plus. In addition to this, the Council’s local public service
                                         agreement employment target has a specific element which looks to support
                                         disabled clients, especially those on incapacity benefit, back into work. A shift
                                         is occuring in policy whereby working with incapacity benefit clients and
                                         therefore more disabled people is becoming a priority. Links with the PCT are
                                         being explored and there is an aspiration to provide assistance to people in
                                         different settings, primarily in health care settings.

                                              Comment: There is scope to identify more specific actions for partner
                                              agencies, as employers.
Empower tenants’ groups and delegate Since 2003/4 Solihull Community Housing has set aside a budget for tenants
budgets to them to carry out environmental to spend on environmental improvements. For 2005/6 the budget is £30,450
improvements.                              and tenants are invited, through the newsletter to recommend projects that
                                           will improve the environment such as lighting to garage site, closing alleyways
                                           and planting shrubs. All the suggested projects are then costed and evaluated
                                           by a panel of tenants who make the final decision on which projects will be
                                           carried out.

Take steps to monitor equalities              Although he Council has developed its own monitoring procedures, there is
                                              not, as of yet, any sharing of data across agencies. This will be looked at as
                                              part of the LSP’s next stage of development. The LSP Forum has identified a
                                              number of ways (e.g. joint protocol, sharing best practice) that partners can
                                              work closer together.

                                              Comment: greater attention is likely to be given to this area, in the revised
                                              Strategy, building on existing agreements (e.g. Diversity Concordat).
Promote community facilities and allotments.   Kingshurst Allotments, the Council, Kingshurst Parish Council and allotment
                                               users are working together to regenerate part of Kingshurst Allotment. They
                                               successfully obtained a grant of £26,750 from the Allotment Regeneration
                                               Initiative/Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The project aims to encourage more
                                               local people, especially those with disabilities, to take up gardening and food
                                               growing and involves the building of raised growing plots, a wildlife area and a
                                               community garden. Much of the practical work has been done by young
                                               people as part of an accredited training programme.

                                               Similarly a disabled friendly garden has been established at the allotments in
                                               Ralph Road, Shirley.

                                               £30,300 was devolved to the tenant's Environmental Policy Development
                                               Panel for a range of environmental improvements chosen by the tenants.
                                               There are currently 13 allotment sites around the Borough. An allotments
                                               charter has been set up and circulated to all plot holders. Parks Action
                                               Groups have also been set up to build community involvement and shared
                                               ownership of our green spaces. The Park Ranger jointly runs these groups
                                               and Patch Manager services.

                                               Comment: this 'aspiration' will need to be more focused and measurable in
                                               relation to community facilities in the re-freshed Strategy.

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