Terms of Reference

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Background

The Forum emerged in 2014 from the co-operation between a number of community-led groups engaged in the planning process. These groups began to meet formally with other similar community associations/fora and alongside local Councillors to address, in particular, the issue of the allocation of the neighbourhood portion of the Community Infrastructure Levy, and how we might support and strengthen Exeter’s communities in general.

In February 2015 Exeter City Council agreed to encourage a “bottom- up approach with positive engagement” to develop a community strategy for the City. [See ECC paper: Governance and Prioritisation of Community Infrastructure Levy Funding].

The Forum exists to:

  1. Give a strong voice for community groups from across the different areas of the City.
  2. Inform the allocation of the neighbourhood portion of the Community Infrastructure Levy accruing from Development in the City and consider other investment needs and opportunities for communities
  3. Give a space for groups to share information and discuss opportunities for collaborative working around the delivery of local services and community assets
  4. Support the creation of a community development strategy for the next five years to strengthen communities, and identify programmes that will best address the development needs of new and existing communities.
  5. To identify common themes and priorities that will help inform decision making about and with communities in the City.
  6. To keep abreast of national policy & initiatives
  7. Communicate with and involve wider communities and key statutory and voluntary/community sector partners in the work of developing a community strategy.

Who is included:

Community-led associations that serve a defined geographical area within Exeter [District] are welcome to join as Full members. These groups are those that are most likely to have an interest in community development and planning matters. These groups are ‘umbrella’ organisations and play a role in supporting other community groups, and will have members from the community or other community groups, and maybe owning and/or running community facilities.

Tenants’ and residents’ groups may join as full members if there is not a relevant community association covering their area.

The Exeter City Councillor with responsibility as ‘Community Champion’ shall attend as a full member and be entitled to vote. Local Councillors in the ward of a participating community-led association are welcome to join as non-voting associate members. Where Councillors are both a councillor and acting to represent a community association they should declare their duality of interest; councillors in such a position are encouraged to involve other members of their Associations’ committee or appropriate community advocate to participate.

Other local statutory and voluntary sector organisations with a specialism in supporting community development may be invited to contribute or join the Forum as Associate members.

Membership of the Forum will be decided by the Steering  Group, unless the applicant does not clearly meet the criteria above then the members of the Forum will decide at the next meeting.

How often we will meet:

The Forum will meet every 6 weeks and the Steering group meet as frequently required between meetings to ensure that work progresses.

Reporting and accountability:

Members of the Forum will seek to build and work to consensus. In the event of formal decision being required by a vote, a show of hands with a simple majority of full members voting will be sufficient. Associate members may not vote.

The Forum is led by volunteer community representatives from area based community organisations as described above. These ‘geographical’ as opposed to ‘community of interest’ based groups are those most likely to have an interest in planning matters.

By participating in the Forum community representatives are expected to report back to their community-led group, their members and wider community, and encourage their participation and contribution to the development of the Community Strategy. Community representatives are encouraged to keep their local Councillors engaged in the progress of the work of the Exeter Community Forum.

The Forum will seek to promote equality and respect diversity in its approach and activity. Its members should actively encourage participation in their work from all sections of the community they serve.

The Forum will select from its membership a steering group to act on its behalf between meetings to facilitate the progression of the work. This group will focus on facilitating the process, ensuring participation and overseeing a timetable of work. They will bring recommendations/ key decisions on policy to the main Forum. The Forum may appoint a chairperson[s]. The Forum will be supported by Exeter City Council. This group will oversee the day to day work of the consultant[s].

A Review of the purpose, functioning and future of the Forum beyond April 2016 will take place by early 2016.

Terms of Reference Adopted 20th May 2015 _revised 3rd July2015