Richard Burden responds to Green Paper


Richard Burden, MP for Birmingham Northfield, has welcomed Birmingham’s vision for neighbourhood working but said that there are issues that must be addressed if neighbourhood working in Birmingham is to be the success in practice that it deserves to be.

The vision for neighbourhood working is set out in ‘Vibrant Urban Villages’, a Green Paper published by Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Strategic Partnership.

Responding to the Birmingham Green Paper, Richard said:

‘I welcome the publication of the Green Paper and this opportunity to respond.

‘I fully support the vision for putting neighbourhoods at the centre of strategies to regenerate Birmingham and build a better future for its citizens. The Green Paper contains many imaginative and worthwhile suggestions about how that vision can be put into practice. The experiences of community-based initiatives that have developed in Northfield over the years reinforce this.

‘My response to the Paper demonstrates my support for the neighbourhood approach and seeks to highlight some of the key issues that need to be addressed in order for the vision of neighbourhood working in Birmingham to be the success in practice that it deserves to be.’

In his response, Richard identified several key issues that must be considered, including:

  • Clarification on the ownership of the Green Paper and the next steps for taking this agenda forward
  • Neighbourhood working should – where it is possible, practical and fair to do so – seek to promote the empowerment and engagement of local communities, not simply their consultation.
  • The City Council needs to show greater consistency in accepting models of community organisations which may be different to its own preferred way of working.
  • It is important that the City Council both develops its role in community leadership as recommend by the Audit Commission whilst balancing this with a clear commitment to partnership working.
  • How to ensure that community representatives and other stakeholders from the third sector are encouraged and able to play a full part in governance and oversight arrangements locally as well as a creative delivery role in the provision of neighbourhood services.
  • Neighbourhood working should be based on ‘natural neighbourhoods’ rather than agency determined boundaries. Policies and funding based on aggregated ward rather than local data threaten to undermine the neighbourhood and community-based initiatives that are being developed at the local level.
  • A strong voluntary and community sector infrastructure at the local as well as the city level will be vital to realising the vision outlined in the Green Paper.

Concluding his response, Richard said:

‘It is clear that unless these issues are properly considered and these challenges faced, the vision set out in the Green Paper will not be realised.’

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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