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Good Evening Mr Mayor,

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					Councillor Danny Cook, Deputy Leader with portfolio for
Community Cohesion:
Good Evening Mr Mayor,

Let me start by saying I sit here tonight very proudly with two hats on. I am
Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio member for Community Cohesion.

I am sure through tonight’s debate the Leader of the Council will principally
cover the entity of the Council as a whole, I will of course dip in with bits and
pieces but will start tonight with extracts from my portfolio angle.

Community Cohesion, how important is the subject to this Council, our
Partners and the people of our historic borough? Simple question really Mr
Mayor.

Firstly let’s start with a view of our values as an Authority. I am sure members
know what these are. There are 12 personal values to this authority they
encompass “Value for money and accountability will underpin the delivery of
all corporate priorities. Working with others, the Council will deliver services
that are well-governed, ethical, effective, efficient and economically viable”.

Thus Tamworth Borough Council is the community leader of choice and will:

      Provide the right services
      Pursue innovative service delivery and improvement arrangements
      Provide more services for less cost
      Be an employer of choice
      Empower staff through investment
      Provide effective opportunity for all residents to influence outcomes
      Ensure access to the council's and other provider's services
      Communicate effectively with the public
      Demonstrate a link between citizen aspirations and council
       performance
      Promote equal opportunities and celebrate diversity
      Be open to public scrutiny & share our performance with the borough
       Integrate core values into all council affairs
      Increase strategic and political leadership capacity



Basically, 9 out of those 12 directly feed into the drive for Community
Cohesion, that’s how important. We have introduced many new levels of
thinking into Community Cohesion over the past year and a half.

We have developed a community cohesion baseline, a simple report giving us
the diversity and makeup of Tamworth and issues we face. From this we
created a framework to guide TBC and our partners on the LSP in ways to
tackle these social inclusion barriers. But we must keep in mind that “Political
Correctness is no excuse for Social Blindness”. We must face the problems
head on with no fear nor small thinking.
Through this we have created “Locality Working”. As I am sure members will
be aware we have targeted four locality areas in Tamworth to target ours and
many of our partner’s resources to tackle the deprivation and lack of
opportunities within our poorer areas. Through this project and as it grows we
hope to tackle many of the issues raised within the place survey. As we imbed
this model into Glascote, Amington, Stonydelph and Belgrave it will give us
and our partner’s better ability to dip into other areas and tackle issues key to
public welfare.

Through Community Cohesion we will continue to fight the battle to improve
tackling ASB and crime in Tamworth. Many will know that over the past year
the performance indictors for TBC and the Police in regard to crime levels
have dropped drastically, bucking national trends. But the key battle is
people’s fear of crime, not crime itself. We were audited recently by
Government in regard to how many ASBO’s we have issued. Even though we
are below average nationally for issue of ASBO’s the inspection went well and
the gentleman sent to carry out the assessment realized the reason so few
are given is we do not wait until it is so late to intervene. Projects like
operation Turnaround are the future, multiple agency working to identify those
are risk of losing their way and step in. I am pleased to say we are national
leaders in this thinking. We must continue to work with our public to improve
their view of Tamworth as a safe place to raise their families.

Part of this battle is local environment, I can advise our street scene team
continue to perform well and all can see how cleaner greener our streets and
open spaces have become. Our Street Wardens are now operating under a
better area arrangement to target resources more efficiently. Shortly they
should receive enforcement powers to further the fight on litter and dog
fouling.

Civil parking enforcement Mr. Mayor, is it working? I can confirm the teams
are now Tamworth based and know where to target their energies towards
improving the safety of parking in Tamworth. I can demonstrate this by
confirming to date this year parking income on TBC car parks is £17,000
above budget. While not an outcome target in itself, is welcome, but
demonstrates the project is delivering and the transgressors are learning.

Community Cohesion is delivering change for the better. But where can we
improve. Difficult in my view due to the national situation we face. Lets us all
be in no doubt Mr. Mayor, we are staring down the barrel of a 10% cut in our
Revenue Support Grant from Government and while I hope and pray for a
change to a conservative government next May, I do not see a change in this
prediction should my hopes surface.

Times are going to get hard at all levels of government and thus difficult
decisions will have to be made. But here is a silver lining, something many of
us believe, change and growth are not always to be led from governments,
the people and the market can also drive this. At times far better.

We are ahead of the game; we have community empowerment and
engagement at the forefront of our agenda’s. Tamworth Listens, introduced by
Cllr Jeremy Oates in 2005 drives the priorities of our budget setting. We have
the town centre Master plan and the Tamworth Economic Partnership driving
change, improvement and growth. We have a new Shopping Centre in our
near future. Regeneration everywhere.

But here is where our opportunity lies; we can focus more of the development
on equality as well as growth. Most national economic strategies are still
fixated on growth and make the mistake in assuming economic development
is the same as growth. WE have an opportunity to understand that growth
must be hand in hand with social development, equalities and community
engagement. That the town’s regeneration must be for the benefit of all.

Too many economic strategies focus on business start up’s, inward
investment, land availability, but miss neighbourhood renewal, local benefit. I
believe over the next couple of years we have a wonderful opportunity to
Endeavour to tie together Economic regeneration and community cohesion.
Nationally there is an alarming lack of relationship between the economy and
social and local employment issues, including worklessness and tackling
NEETS.

Here is my driver, to let our local economy grow and drive Tamworth forward,
but to use this tool to allow all in Tamworth to secure the benefit, to know the
opportunities, to be aware that life is not to be lived the way you find it, but the
want you want it, the way you earn it, the way you give the reward to others
once you have it. Let us strive to give the people of this town this chance.

Thank you Mr Mayor.

				
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