As we look ahead to local government reform, what lessons could be learned from Wales's only URBAN I community initiative?
Trust and Partnership was written in 2018 when the urgent need for radical change in Welsh local government was once again headline news. We look back at the origin of the huge Townhill housing estate overlooking Swansea and then consider the aims and aspirations of the EU URBAN I Community Initiative. URBAN laid a foundation. The decision was made to create a company limited by guarantee with charitable aims to carry the baton of regeneration and build for a sustainable future. The multi-use Phoenix Centre, billed as the first economic development centre of its kind in Wales, was opened in 2001 as a community hub to deliver a range of activities and services to local people. Communities First came and went. Here, lessons from many years of hard-won success are shared. Against the odds, this ambitious approach worked, and even continued to thrive when the government grants dried up. Can the principles which underpin this innovative approach be applied to other communities, whether they are classified as 'deprived' or not?
A sister paper, Time to Be Radical, will be written to propose how communities can be transformed from within to ensure happier, healthier, wealthier, safer and sustainable futures.