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Council holds First Community Planning Conference

September 28, 2015

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, in partnership with the Local Government Training Group (LGTG), was delighted to host the first Community Planning Conference, ‘From Awareness to Commitment’. The first Conference of its kind, which follows a series of community engagement sessions during the summer, has been regarded as a great success.

The Conference acted as an important platform for key stakeholders to consider the future shape of Community Planning for the area, in a changing and developing public sector and to evaluate and agree priorities for action.

Well attended, the ‘From Awareness to Commitment’ Conference was strategically planned into three sessions and incorporated a number of keynote speakers from a variety of sectors.

Delegates listened to an array of collaborative methods to aid in the development of a community plan for the Council area. Key factors included, effective engagement with the community, at all ages, and businesses, and the need for a shared vision in order to succeed.

A busy programme was opened by The Mayor, Councillor Thomas Beckett, with welcomes from Alderman William Leathem, Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee and Dr Theresa Donaldson, Chief Executive.

Session one kicked off with Antony Clark, Assistant Director of Audit Scotland. He provided a comprehensive overview of the Scottish Experience of community planning and the importance of demonstrating a shared vision and the willingness to change.

Following Antony, delegates heard from Cathy McCulloch, Co-Director of The children’s Parliament. Cathy provided an endearing but yet hard hitting message on why Children and Young People should be given a voice to help map the future – their views and ideas should be included and valued as part of the process.

Moving on to session two, Chief Executive, from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Hugh McCaughey focused on ‘A Healthier, Happier Community’ and spoke about the requirement for an integrated approach to community planning. Working together to plan and deliver better services which make a real difference to people’s lives.

Committed to making the community planning function work in the Council area Sean Wright, Superintendent of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, informed delegates of the challenges ahead and the crucial factor of community involvement, recognising the importance of a joint approach for success.

The penultimate speech came from Steve Daly, Principal Leisure Manager at Preston City Council who drew upon his experiences on ‘Creating Active Communities’. He spoke about how the community shouldn’t just have to fit into the community plan but how the community plan should fit into the community.

The final key note speaker of the day was Professor Tony Gallagher, Professor of Education and Pro-Vice Chancellor from Queen’s University voiced his experience on how education is key to unlocking the future of our children. He also spoke about the need to take a multi-agency approach to community planning and that all party views should be considered.

Speaking at the event, the Mayor, Councillor Thomas Beckett, welcomed delegates to Lagan Valley Island. He said, “As the first Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, I am delighted to open the Council’s first Community Planning Conference, ‘From Awareness to Commitment’.

“Community Planning is at the very core of public service reform at a local level. The Council believes that the overarching benefit of community planning is that it allows for focus on the local area and allows the Council to tackle challenges faced in communities.

"It is great to see so many of you here and I hope you all can learn from our keynote speakers and take something away from today," the Mayor concluded.

Also speaking at the event, Alderman William Leathem, Chairman of the Governance and Audit Committee said, “Today’s Conference is a great opportunity for key stakeholders to come together to consider how we can shape the Lisburn & Castlereagh area.

“Our aim is to ensure that the Council’s Community Plan will be an inclusive, long term vision for the future.

“We recognise the importance of engaging with the community and have conducted a series of community engagement sessions, which have provided us with key aspirations and needs of the community.

“The Conference provides the perfect channel for us to gain further understanding of community planning from the experiences of those who have been through the process and I would like to thank all the keynote speakers for taking the time out of their busy schedules to be with us today,” said Alderman Leathem.

“I would also like to commend the work of the Local Government Training Group and sincerely thank them for their invaluable support throughout the reform process, as well as a partner organiser of the Conference.”

The final session of the day provided all delegates with an opportunity to develop ideas on a mission statement and partnership structure. 

To view the presentations from the event please click here