3. Influencing and campaigning
Through Big Local we are eager to promote democratic participation and recognise that some Big Local partnerships may become involved in the range of community-based campaigning work. For example ensuring that community voices are heard when decisions are made around preserving an asset for community use or maintaining local authority funding for a vitally important local bus service. Other Big Local areas may find themselves involved in projects which require them to convince local partners, including the local authority, to make decisions that support the delivery of their ambitions – for example deciding to transfer an asset to the Big Local partnership or an associated organisation.
We would expect most Big Local partnerships to take forward activity seeking to influence local decision making to some extent, where it forms part of a partnership plan and contributes towards a shared vision for the area. In particular where it relates to working with local people to:
- establish a shared vision for their area, and the changes that need to be made to achieve it
- work with local partners, including their local authority, to promote their vision for their area, influence decision making and build partnerships to help achieve it
- build the confidence of local people to articulate their views and organise themselves in ways to ensure those views are heard
However, in doing so, Big Local areas should take care to ensure that their activity does not put them in danger of breaching the terms and conditions. This may not necessarily occur because of the subject matter of a particular issue, but rather the manner in which it is pursued, and caution should be applied to ensure activity doesn’t become part of any political controversy. This means campaigning activity shouldn’t become the predominant activity of the partnership or organisation for an extended period of time.
We have considered defining this further and giving examples but the problem with this is that they inevitably confuse matters further and detract from the flexibility that we are encouraging and is at the heart of our approach and guidance. Instead we acknowledge that each area and case is different and each case must be considered in light of its individual facts and circumstances.