ON Tuesday 27th March representatives of Edinburgh’s Third Sector met up with candidates from the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party Councillors Paul Edie and Robert Aldridge for a frank exchange of views covered in a wide-ranging discussion.
The fourth #TwilightTalks event at EVOC brought a core of committed Third Sector players together to build on the themes within the Edinburgh Third Sector Manifesto for Council Elections 2012, to share their thinking with candidates in the May elections, and to hear from candidates about their aspirations and expectations for the next five years.
Key themes to emerge included the unrealised potential for Edinburgh’s Neighbourhood Partnerships to strengthen local democracy and accountability, the urgent need to build and develop trust between sectors and between individuals, and the clear recognition on all sides that putting people, their needs and their assets front and centre makes for good policy.
Ella Simpson, EVOC Director, welcomed people and reminded everyone of the key themes and challenges within the Edinburgh Third Sector Manifesto: Leadership, Inequalities, Trust, Co-Production, Fair Employment, and the limits of Competitive Tendering. The Candidates were invited to make brief responses before questions and comments from the floor.
Cllr Paul Edie, responding, was keen to point out that the current Lib-Dem led Administration in Edinburgh has ‘provided strong leadership,’ and brought to the Council ‘careful stewardship of public finance.’ The group heard clearly that the party sees the Voluntary Sector as ‘integral to delivering Public Services.’ Cllr Edie assured the meeting that he was ‘very passionate’ about Neighbourhood Partnerships. With refreshing candour Cllr Edie told the group he ‘struggles to see what Co-Production means in practice.’
As you’d expect, the group was not short of helpful suggestions. The meeting heard the view that since ‘Co-Production was a rich and generative term,’ perhaps it was no surprise that different people had their own views on what Co-Production was and what it wasn’t. EVOC’s (and the Edinburgh Compact Partnership’s) accepted ‘definition’ was: ‘Co-Production is about equal and respectful, trusting and purposeful relationships – between policy-makers and those affected by the policy, service-providers and service-users, and between budget decision-makers and those affected by budget decisions.’
On the issue of more effective use of physical assets – schools, community centres and the like – the group heard that the newly-opened Drumbrae hub exemplified a new approach to community use of public facilities. We also heard a powerful case for a ‘community centre renaissance’ which could come simply from being open and accepting of new partners and new ideas.
Notably, Cllr Aldridge told the meeting of a growing interest in measuring the Social Impacts of their policy decisions. Underlying this theme is the recognition that public policy needs to take account of social and environmental impacts as well as economic impacts.
Returning to a consistent theme from the session, in closing Ella left us with the challenge to all of us to work together consistently to build a positive culture of Trust.
Hosted by EVOC on behalf of Edinburgh’s Third Sector Interface, next Tuesday sees the final event in this series of Twilight Talks taking place from 5.30 – 7.00pm on Tuesday 03 April where Third Sector representatives will meet Council candidates from the Scottish National Party.
Read more about this programme of events: https://www.evoc.org.uk/blog-archive/embrace-the-change/ and view the agenda and details: https://www.evoc.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/media/2012/02/Twilight_Talks_on_a_Tuesday2.pdf
And if you’re into Twitter, please use the hashtag #TwilightTalks