Theme 1) – Community Action – A Grassroots Challenge

Lots of us are involved in community action. From school governing boards to running social clubs to running music and arts societies, these are the groups that help make Cambridge a place worth living in. Yet many have been struggling in the economic climate. So how can we bring our community groups together to influence what happens in local democracy? How can we become greater than the sum of our parts?

  • Do you feel that councils take decisions without your informed consent?
  • Have you ever walked past a building and wondered how it got planning permission?
  • Do you know who your councillors are? Do you know who your MEPs in the European Parliament are? Do you know who your MP is? Do you know what they are responsible for & how to contact them?
  • Have you ever wanted to do something positive for your local community but have not known where or how to start?
  • Are you already running a community group and feel that greater support (whether grants, publicity or partnership working with public institutions) could make a massive difference locally?
  • Would you like to see greater co-operation and collaboration between community groups that put on similar events and activities?

If these questions got you thinking, then this section is for you.

Puffles scrutinising Cambridge City Council from the rafters
Puffles scrutinising Cambridge City Council from the rafters – but shouldn’t the councillors and the mayor be facing the public, who find themselves confined to the edges?

At a local level in Cambridge and district, we lack:

  • An understanding of the big picture -> Can we see on a map where all the charities and community groups are based in and around Cambridge?
  • Sharing information, actions and resources – especially where there is overlap
  • A single system (online, phone and in person) for the booking of community venues (similar to booking a hotel/guesthouse) that avoids double-booking while saving time searching.
  • A single events portal/website to allow a more co-ordinated approach to organising and publicity – such as Events – On the Wight.
  • A single city-wide website with an online message board similar to The Student Room, one that significantly expands on the start made by Shape Your Place.

If we don’t take action to improve some of the basic foundations for our community groups, many of them will struggle in the face of rising costs and reductions in grants.

My proposals below aim to:

  • make community groups more sustainable financially
  • help people and groups put on more events
  • get more people involved in activities – whether taking up old ones or trying out new ones
  • help larger institutions make available their facilities to new audiences
  • help people learn new skills, meet new people and work
  • help improve the emotional and physical health of people through the activities they find out
  • get more young people involved – which I cover in detail in theme 2) Supporting young people

Proposals, vision, policies

Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council (and other interested district/parish councils) to convene workshops/hack days involving local people and community groups to improve, update and condense the websites and Shape Your Place

Both councils working with Cambridge News, Cambridge University, Anglia Ruskin University, concert venues and other local events publicising organisations to create a one-stop ‘city-wide’ events portal such as Events.OnTheWight. Such a site needs to allow people to register their own events while at the same time having a network of paid staff and volunteers to maintain the site and ensure people do not ‘spam’ it.

Publicising and supporting groups such as Net2Camb (see here – I volunteer for them) to help them connect local community groups, training up local people to use social media

For Cambridge City Council, in partnership with Cambridge University to expand the Conferences Cambridge service to expand it across the city. This is to cover venues owned/run by community groups as well as school and church halls.

Organise workshops for community groups to help educate local people on how our councils work, and what services they provide.







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