The 31 Local Economic and Community Plans (one in each local authority area) commits to 5,037 actions in the areas of; economic development, social inclusion, community development, health and wellbeing, rural and urban regeneration, investment and infrastructure. When you combine all the local plans and aspirations, the picture of community-based mobilisation is immense. There are 1,701 organisations involved in the delivery of these actions. These include Government Departments, Local Development Companies, State Agencies such as IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the HSE; development organisations, and a wide range of local community and voluntary groups. This also forms a mechanism for 11,137 community and voluntary groups to engage meaningfully with local authorities.
Joe MacGrath, Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council and Chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) stated that the Local Economic and Community Plans provide a framework by which significant investment will be made. The LCDC is the main approval body for the LEADER Programme investing €191.1million in local areas between 2014 – 2020. Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) will see €37.4million invested in social inclusion programmes throughout the country in 2016. The LCDC is also seen as the decision body in the Border counties for the Ireland – Northern Ireland PEACE Programme. Mr MacGrath asserts that this methodology is proving effective and the formula for allocation of funding and its governance via the local authorities should be built on.
Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney, firmly believes that the membership of the LCDC is critical to the delivery of the actions set out in the Local Economic and Community Plans. The role for the local elected members and the Chief Executive of the City or County Council, the voluntary sector, community groups and agencies are central to the delivery of public services in local areas. The combination of political and community leadership and agency involvement means that the LCDC is best positioned to mobilise relevant groups to deliver the Local Economic and Community.
Paul Reid, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, cites the success of the Local Enterprise Offices as a major contributor to economic recovery across the country. Since 2014, the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are playing a pivotal role in supporting entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, people with a business idea and helping small business to scale up. The LEOs are now an integral part of the local authority providing businesses with a better range of supports at a local level. A net total of 3,533 new full and part-time jobs were delivered in 2015 by the 6,500 small businesses from across the country that have been supported by the LEOs. He added that the expanded role local authorities play in tourism development and promotion is recognised across Ireland.
The implementation of the plans will make a significant difference to local communities, creating an enterprise environment that supports job creation, improving the attractiveness of local areas for tourists, and better coordination of a range of services aimed at enhancing inclusiveness and the health and wellbeing of local residents. Depending on the needs of the area, and the availability of resources, projects may include; enterprise parks, rollout of broadband, tourist attractions including greenways and blueways, and improved services for older people and other social inclusive measures.
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NOTE TO EDITOR
There are 31 Local Economic and Community Plans, all prepared by the Local Community and Development Committees (LCDC), adopted by the elected members and submitted to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. Each local authority develops a plan that considers unique local factors through a process that includes extensive public consultation. T
hrough the Public Participation Networks (PPNs), the LCDCs provide a mechanism by which the community and voluntary sector can meaningfully participate in local development. There are 11,137 community and voluntary group on PPNs throughout Ireland. The Local Government Reform Act, 2014 clearly states that public bodies must cooperate with the LCDCs, there was no such obligation for public bodies to cooperate with the County Development Boards. The obligation for public bodies to cooperate with the LCDCs greatly strengthens the potential to deliver agreed actions that are ultimately designed to improve the economic, social or cultural fabric of local areas.
Alignment to deliver Local, Regional and National Development:
The preparation of 31 separate Local Economic and Community Plans poses the question: how do we avoid duplication and ensure collaboration for the greater good? The link between the LCDC and the local authority is essential to ensure that the benefits of implementation of the 5,037 actions are felt at local, regional and national levels.
- Locally the Plans must be consistent with the County or City Development Plans.
- Regionally the Local Economic and Community Plans are being used by the Regional Assemblies to inform the Regional Economic Spatial Strategies. In addition, local authorities, in partnership with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, are playing a central role in the coordination and delivery of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs.
- Nationally the Plans will inform the National Planning Framework and are consistent with Enterprise 2025 – the Government’s enterprise policy.