Southern Wiltshire Area Board
Whiteparish Local Councillor and SWAB Vice-Chairman: Leo Randall
 
Purpose of this page

This is not (by any means) the Southern Wiltshire Area Board's (SWAB) home page, which can be found by clicking here. This page is included here just to provide a simpler and briefer explanation of what area boards do than you may find in Wiltshire Council's own web pages on the subject—in the early versions, anyway.

Brief outline of SWAB, and Area Boards in general

The following outline was kindly provided by Tom Bray of Wiltshire Council, when we asked for a brief explanation of Area Boards.

"The Southern Wiltshire Area Board is one of 18 area boards throughout Wiltshire. These area boards have been set up to ensure the council involves local people in decisions and to bring together the key partners operating in the area to ensure the right sort of services are being delivered to suit local communities.

The board is made up of
Elected Councillors
Parish councils
A cabinet member from Wiltshire Council
Senior reps from the Police, Fire and Rescue, NHS
and ideally community groups and businesses

You might have been familiar with the old Salisbury District Council's Southern Area Committee - this governed old district functions at a local level but now the board will have a wider scope with all Council issues (both former county functions like Highways and district functions like parks and open spaces as it is now a unitary authority). The board will not make decisions on planning applications.

The board is necessary for a few reasons

  1. It will ensure local input into the Council's decisions - this might be through consultations or lobbying on particular issues
  2. It will focus the priorities of the area and help to draw in funding for particular projects such as improving provision of youth facilities
  3. It can help to tackle local issues that emerge using a more responsive and cooperative approach. eg. speeding in villages by engaging council and police to work with local people to carry out speedwatch or implements speed indication devices.
Area Boards will offer communities a greater chance than before to engage with the public service providers to shape the services how the community wants or needs them. In terms of what other councils outside wiltshire do I don't know the extent to which they operate locally but Wiltshire Council seem to be a setting a good example with the Area Boards."

Message from the SWAB Chairman

For: All residents of the Southern Wiltshire Community Area

Dear Residents and Partners,

Southern Wiltshire Area Board

I am very aware that there is still some unease and concern about what our Area Board ‘is all about’. As chairman I must take responsibility for that uncertainty but I must confess that my own thoughts are only just beginning to gel as a result of our first couple of meetings.

I wanted to share with you what is emerging in my mind about our future.

Firstly two things that I am determined our Board should NOT be about.

We should not be duplicating the work and responsibilities of Parish Councils and at all costs we should not allow the Board to become just another ‘talking shop’. We are there to improve things for the communities we represent.

So what ARE we about?

We must keep in mind that the creation of the Area Boards was a key component of the unitary council proposals. This new way of working was intended to ‘fill the gap’ left by the removal of the district councils and to provide a new way of engaging with our communities.

Something which has emerged very clearly from our first meetings is that we are a very diverse Area with several very different and self-contained settlements each with a Parish Council ‘doing its own thing’. Whilst there seems to be a reluctance to think about tackling issues on a community area-wide basis there is little doubt that there is a whole range of issues which are common to just about every settlement: youth provision and speeding to name but two examples.

The Board has the power – indeed the duty – to call to account WC and other service providers for aspects of service delivery which our residents feel are inadequate.

It seems obvious to me that we stand a much better chance of achieving solutions (or at least mitigations) of problems by acting together rather than each parish acting on its own (and doing much the same thing as the next-door parish). There is strength in numbers.

By tackling problems which are genuinely community area-wide at a community area level we shall be achieving things for individual settlements within the Area so it is very much in the interests of individual parishes to contribute to work at a community area level.

Let me say what I think is emerging about the role of the Community Area Board:

  • The Issue system provides a mechanism whereby individual Parish Councils who have been working unsuccessfully to get a resolution of a particular issue affecting that particular settlement can enlist the dedicated aid of the Community Area Manager and the support of the Area Board.
  • The Area Board provides a forum at which particular service providers can be challenged and called to account on issues of concern to all, or at least several settlements in the Area.
  • It provides a focal point for groups of parishes and/or service providers and community groups to tackle issues which are multi-agency in nature.

The Working Party on the renewal of the Community Area Plan is likely to throw up issues which fall into these categories but in the meantime I plan to introduce “SPOTLIGHT ON” sessions into our proceedings where the Area Board spends most of its evening on a single issue of widespread interest or concern.

If you would like to suggest such topics please write to me. And also please write if you have any other comments or suggestions about the future of the Area Board.

By tackling issues at an Area level we can, I’m sure, make really worthwhile contributions to the well-being of individual settlements.

Yours,

Richard Britton
Chairman of Southern Wiltshire Area Board

Links

For Wiltshire Council's home page about Area Boards generally, click here.
For the Southern Wiltshire Area Board home page, click here.

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