What are Local Community Networks (LCNs) – in a nutshell?
Why have LCNs at all?
You’ll find the Business Case here.
What is the purpose of LCNs?
Their purpose is to be the focus for the new Council for community engagement and development, within an ethos of local partnership working, looking to improve outcomes for residents through establishing strong connections between Somerset Council, our communities, and our partners.
What will the membership of LCNs be?
- The elected Somerset Council Councillors representing the electoral divisions covered by the LCN
- An elected representative from each City, Town or Parish Council within the area covered by the LCN
- Representatives from the following groups or organisations:
- Local Neighbourhood policing team
- Somerset National Health Service
- Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
- Representatives from Voluntary, Community, Faith, and Social Enterprise Organisations
- Representatives from Businesses or Trade Groups
Some of the core membership will be determined locally by each LCN.
LCNs will meet in local areas, in every part of the county. They will discuss what is most important for their area and work together to agree how best to achieve it.
Does the Chair or Vice-Chair have to be a unitary councillor?
A Somerset Councillor needs to hold either the Chair or Vice-Chair position. A Chair and Vice-Chair will be voted-in at the first LCN meeting.
Who can vote at LCNs?
You’ll find them here in our Terms of Reference (ToR) section on our website.
Can you vote if you’re not at the meeting in person?
Whilst an indicative show of hands online and in the room can inform voting, only persons identified as part of the core membership can formally vote – and they are required to be physically present for the vote to count. This is detailed in the Terms of Reference (and following current Government legislation).
You’ll find them here in our Terms of Reference section on our website.
Do you anticipate regular voting at LCNs?
We don’t anticipate regular voting will be required – our Pilot LCNs have demonstrated much can be decided by consensus.
However, a vote will be necessary at the LCN Launch Meeting, to appoint the Chair and Vice-Chair roles and thereafter at each LCN AGM.
Will LCNs be staffed?
How often will LCNs meet?
Will the meetings be hybrid
We’d prefer LCN’s meet in person, but we also want maximum involvement and no barriers to access. That’s why we are trialling hybrid meetings in a community context to see if this is something we can easily support going forward. We have asked colleagues from our ITC department at Somerset Council to help us set this up. Much will depend on WiFi access at the venues, but it is our aim to deliver hybrid meetings via MS Teams. Please note however that we will not have the facility to live stream meetings.
What will LCNs look like in Year One?
- Be a forum for community voice, engagement, and influence
- Be a means for enhancing participation in democracy and local decision making
- Enhance collaboration by bringing together at a local level, representatives from partner organisations, town, City and parish councils, community groups and residents
- Identify evidence-based community priorities; across Economic, Social, and Environmental issues
- Create plans to reflect how the priorities will be addressed
- Identify and secure resource opportunities for local projects
Where do you see LCNs beyond Year One?
LCN arrangements must be flexible to respond to, and accommodate, changing priorities at a local and countywide level. Other Unitary areas have, over time, aligned local service delivery to the areas of their community networks.
Beyond Year One we would expect to see LCNs demonstrating that they are focusing on the clear needs within their communities; that they are delivering against those needs, and that their work is aligned to partner priorities and those expressed in the new Council Plan.
Will LCNs have money to invest in local projects?
How will LCNs identify priorities in their area?
Will LCNs have Planning or Licensing functions?
Will LCNs have assets or services devolved to them?
Will unitary councillors be expected to attend more than one LCN because some cross electoral boundaries?
Will LCNs work with businesses?
How will LCNs include individuals and community members?
Are you engaging with city, town and parish councils about LCNs?
Will every city, town, and parish council (and parish meeting) be part of an LCN?
Can Clerks vote?
Parish Council Clerks should ensure, where possible, that a named local representative from their parish council (elected or co-opted) attends LCN Meetings.
Clerks cannot be the local representative, or vote, but are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to attend, if they have capacity.
Will LCNs place an extra burden on parish councils?
We do recognise that parish councillors are unpaid volunteers and that there may be other capacity constraints for parishes. We will continue to work closely with SALC and SLCC to further consider the barriers to participation in LCNs and how we can work together to address them.
In some places, our city, town, and parish councils are forming networks and looking at ways to share experiences and support each other.
How will LCNs ensure equality of opportunity?
Somerset is both a rural and urban county and we believe it is important that LCNs have representation that reflects its community.
The LCN officer team, working with our partners, will be key to facilitating engagement and representation from our communities.
This will ensure that the voices of all our residents are heard.
Where are the LCN Pilots?
Three Pilot LCNs are exploring ways of working with city, town, and parish councils, highways, children’s services, public health, the police, voluntary organisations, businesses, and other local groups.
- The Frome Area pilot LCN is exploring the theme of Children, Young People and Families.
- The South East Somerset pilot (in the Wincanton, Bruton and Castle Cary area) is considering Rural isolation and Wellbeing.
- In the Exmoor area, Somerset County Council is piloting a new approach to delivering local street scene and highways services, with city, town, and parish councils.
What is the purpose of the Pilots?