The key to Monmouthshire being a sustainable and vibrant place lies in its people and communities. Dilemmas facing public services are really dilemmas facing communities – it is residents who will live with the consequences of service retreat / withdrawal unless we can find a way of mitigating large scale funding reduction.
We now understand that a large part of our job is to create conditions that make it more likely that communities can come together and play a part in tackling the challenges that will impact their place. As a Council we need to ‘lean into’ our communities and access their immense social capital on their terms.
Reducing budgets, more complex needs and higher expectations of what is possible mean that public services can’t keep doing the same things in the same way. We don’t have all the answers but by brokering connections between passionate and committed people we stand a greater chance of finding them. In future councils like Monmouthshire are likely to be delivering less services directly but we still have a legal duty to ensure that needs of our businesses and residents are met. To do this we need to become curators of our local place.
We have always valued conversations and for the past few years we have been holding Monmouthshire Engages events – a series of forums where local people can share their ideas about solutions to the challenges we face. Made Open gives us a platform to take these conversations to another level. The potential for people to raise challenges – and for their neighbours to start the projects that solve them is a high value proposition. Add the potential for crowd-funding of the things that matter locally and we can hold on to a picture of a vibrant future for our communities.
We know that not everyone will be interested in spending their leisure time delivering like-for-like public services. But our experiences show that they are willing to commit their skills, time and energy to things that matter to their families – Made Open has a place in helping to achieve this.