"As Chairman of Swindon Civic Voice I am pleased to announce that we have been successful in our ‘Awards for All’ (a program sponsored by the UK National Lottery) grant application. The funds will be used for our volunteers to provide training for residents in “Understanding Local Government” and “Understanding our Planning System”.
We believe that in light of the current reforms of both systems these courses are more relevant and necessary than ever. The courses will be aimed at both individuals and members of various community and voluntary organisations in Swindon and will provide a valuable support system. If, in line with the ‘Big Society’ initiative, we want people to become ‘active citizens’ they must get the appropriate information necessary in order to make informed comments and decisions – whether fighting/supporting a development; commenting on a new council policy or strategy, or working to save a heritage building.
Swindon Civic Voice, formerly Swindon Civic Trust, has been working with the local community in the Borough of Swindon for 10 years. Over this time period we have carried our several formal consultations on local issues and have had numerous public meetings on varied subjects. We have found that the public in general and community volunteers/activists find both the planning system and the processes of local government convoluted and unfathomable.
Bearing in mind the proposed changes, we recognise an urgent need for public awareness and understanding in order to be fully involved in any decision making process that directly affects their everyday lives. There is a need in Swindon to champion good quality development, policy making and civic pride through community participation.
We will be addressing the need to involve local communities of all backgrounds in acquiring a deeper understanding of the richness of the area, its social history, built heritage, natural environment and how to ‘input’ ideas and opinions to our local authority in a reasoned, knowledgeable and timely way. We intend to start the courses in January/February 2012.
For more information please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01793 520592."