Bradford Councillors Question ‘People Can’ Scheme

They are questioning plans to spend £45,000 on developing a new website to promote the scheme.

Councillors have raised “concerns” about a scheme that brings together charity and community groups,  questioning what it was actually achieving.

Their criticism of the Bradford ‘People Can’ campaign included questioning plans to spend £45,000 on developing a new website to promote the scheme.

People Can describes itself as a “district wide approach that succeeds through collaborating with the Community Voluntary Sector, the business community and citizens.” It is involved in everything from organising litter picks to helping groups run community libraries and park “friends of” groups.

Members of Bradford Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee were given an annual update on the scheme on Thursday evening.

Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey) pointed out that some of the schemes under the People Can umbrella were community run because the Council had pulled out due to cutbacks. He said: “A huge amount of the activities listed here happened before People Can. I’m struggling to work out what has changed since.

“A lot of these things are not ‘people can.’ It is not people saying ‘we think we can run this library better than the Council.’ It is ‘if we want a library then we have to run it ourself'. It is ‘people have to.’ I think putting things like community libraries under the People Can banner damages the brand.

“A huge chunk of what you are talking about happened before we started calling it People Can. If little Johnny Miggins and Mrs Miggins turn up to a clean up in Bankfoot they do it because they are part of that community – they don’t see themselves as part of the People Can brand. I’m still struggling to get my head round what you do.”

Committee chair Nazam Azam (Lab, City) said: “I think these events would still be happening even without a People Can logo.”

Mahmood Mohammed from People Can said the scheme was about helping these individual groups support themselves, and providing advice on how they can get funding.

Councillor Richard Dunbar (Lab, Thornton and Allerton) said: “I remember sitting in a committee about five years ago when this concept was brought forward. I haven’t really heard anything to suggest that value has been added.”

He questioned why People Can was planning to spend £45,000 on a new website. Michelle Taylor, project officer for safer communities, said they could look again at the website plans.

Councillors also asked if the team whether a new People Can Co-ordinator role was needed.

In total the budget for People Can would be £148,000 over two years.

Ian Day, department of place, said if that Coordinator role wasn’t filled it could lead to the cancellation of the annual Community Stars event, which he argued was “absolutely integral” to celebrating volunteers in the district.

The committee called for a further report be presented in six-months to “demonstrate the social value” of the programme.

The committee also voted to “express its concerns over the financing and resourcing of People Can and requests that officers reconsider their approach of the financing and resourcing.

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