Discover more from The Wrangle
Sheffield: a city framework for all?
Imagine a Sheffield where it is obvious why certain things happen and people - all people - could do their own thing towards a shared vision and know how decisions were made by others...
Like most places, Sheffield is a city full of people doing good and necessary things. Residents, businesses, the voluntary sector, communities, the local and regional authorities, institutions, health ‘bodies’ and other statutory services are getting stuff done for - and with - other people in the city. I’ve started thinking a lot about how this might be articulated and coordinated in a more equitable, structured way.
If you want to cut to the chase click here and feel free to comment on what you see (puts on hard hat).
If, however, you’re happy to read a bit more first…
Across a place, there are lots of assumed responsibilities and processes. For example: the council does bins and roads, and they make decisions about those things through a combination of elected councillors, who bring with them the views of those they represent, and council staff; or your GP sees you when you make an appointment and then might refer you on to somewhere else, a hospital or voluntary organisation, perhaps. These ways of doing things are necessary to a certain extent to ensure that people are clear about who does what.
There are other, higher-level assumptions in all this too. One of these is that the direction or plan for a city is the primary responsibility of the local authority and these things are informed by consultation with residents and local organisations, with the consultation process being led by the local authority.
But what happens when planning and decision-making stalls because of disagreements, or the local/national context changes meaning that the assumed way of doing things is harder, such as a reduction in funding? And how might assumptions be politely challenged so that others that want to can be empowered to take things on (appropriately) and help to relieve the burden of responsibility and resource on stretched services?
One thing I believe may help with this is a bottom up framework for everyone in the city - under which projects, plans, community action and service delivery can sit, be measured and be categorised - that sets out three things:
Desired aims for the city - broad enough that we can all get behind them, but specific enough that they can steer action and doing;
A simple process for deciding whether something contributes to those aims - something that acknowledges differences in opinion but gives agency to those who might want to do something towards the city’s aims;
A set of principles - a loose guide for how we might all work together within the processes too.
So, I had a go at setting one out. I don’t for one second think it’s in any way complete or perfect, but I wonder whether it might be a good starting point.
Feel free to comment away! I’m certainly not precious about the specific content, it’s much more about whether it’s a potentially useful structure. And, just to be clear, this is not a plan for the city, nor is it for any one organisation or group to take the lead on; it’s intended as an open, transparent structure within we which can all frame what we’re doing, how and why.