A safe city – one where we also have safe spaces to discuss and resolve community tensions
It’s all very well having an upbeat manifesto but I’d be in denial if I said Cambridge doesn’t have community tensions. It does. Although they are not nearly as extreme as other parts of the country I visited during my Whitehall days, we have issues. Furthermore, we do not have suitable arrangements that are well publicised for the airing of grievances – real or perceived – in a safe and honest manner. The recent closure of the Cambridge and district mediation service is a particular blow.
Conversations I’ve had with councillors have indicated that tensions have risen as Cambridge has struggled to deal with being a city with a global brand. Market down public and community infrastructure as they currently are cannot cope. So, what can we do?
Cambridge City Council to employ a community mediator and/or to set up a system where people can access free mediation services
Creating a system where people can report issues they are concerned about – advertising this system in places where people are likely to see the notices, such as supermarket noticeboards and bus stops
Linking the above-two to the police and other public services so that intelligence on community tensions is being shared. (This also means having staff trained on data protection ‘beyond the basics’)
Links to counselling services and community self-help groups for people that might be struggling with the issues they are raising – particular anger
Community activist email lists – similar to the monthly email updates Transition Cambridge sends out
Comparing census data for Cambridge with those who don’t seem to be represented at consultations and community meetings. Who is missing?
- Young adults?
- Some sections of minority communities (again eg women?)
- People with disabilities
- New residents?
A welcome pack for new residents from Cambridge City Council/the Council for Voluntary Services distributed by estate agents and letting agencies [NB Cambridge City Council has a scheme for this for new-build properties, but it’s not online yet]
Training and mentoring for under-represented groups to encourage them to take part – with some targets and dates to drive this
Bringing in credible speakers with a track record of success to challenge local groups and institutions where barriers might exist. For example tackling the under-representation of women on the Local Area Partnership.
Thanks to my friend @Shutupcaf on Twitter, calling for a significant improvement in complaints procedures and putting in place mediation processes in our higher education and research institutions where junior researchers feel they are not getting enough support, or are being treated badly by supervisors and managers. This matters for our (research) communities that live and work within our communities