Live chat: Engaging with local authorities

This live discussion is the second event in our series on local campaigning and influencing.

This live chat has finished – we’ll upload a summary later this week

Local authorities have undergone many changes in recent years – on one hand they have greater control of their finances, changing duties and more flexibility to innovate and develop services that better meet the needs of their communities, through the Localism agenda.

On the other, new agencies have been established adding complexity to local decision-making, and local authorities are experiencing continued cuts to their budgets, leading to restructures and upheaval in their organisations.

This has had a big impact on existing relationships and partnership working between the local public agencies and voluntary sector. We’ve put together a great expert panel to discuss some of the burning issues that voluntary organisations are most interested in:

  • making contact
  • building relationships
  • commissioning and procurement
  • public health and other local health agencies


Join us to get some of your questions answered and discuss these hot topics:

  • when it is best to approach an elected member or a council officer on an issue
  • how relationships can be formed or re-established when staff changes or an organisational restructure has taken place
  • how organisations can get involved in the commissioning process, and what new opportunities presented by the Social Value Act and new procurement regulations
  • how the duties for health are split between Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups, and how they work together

Expert panel

Councillor Simon Wales – Lead Member for Finance, Assets & the Voluntary Sector, London Borough of Sutton

Simon is in his third term as a Councillor and has been the lead for the voluntary sector for five years. He has overseen the development of Sutton’s capacity building framework and developmental assets, and the Sutton Compact is two-time winner at Compact Voice’s national Compact Awards.

Simon also leads on commissioning development, and supports the Social Enterprise Forum, the Fairtrade committee, and is the Council’s champion for mental health and lead for the Council on the dementia action alliance.

Eshaan Akbar – Policy, Strategy and Partnerships Officer, Merton Council

Eshaan has been responsible for managing the corporate relationship with the voluntary sector in Merton since 2010. He has published the voluntary sector funding database and has played an important role in harnessing the relationship with the local community.

Eshaan is also a member of the Community Development Steering Group for Merton Priory Homes, the housing ALMO of Merton Council.

Racheal Jones – Social Growth Programme Manager, Knowsley CVS

Racheal develops and manages stakeholder relationships and business activity for Knowsley CVS. She has a private, public and voluntary sector professional background with 20 years’ experience working within social value organisations and communities across Merseyside. Racheal has extensive experience of developing, managing and evaluating socio-economic programmes, a particular interest in commissioning for social value, and developing and establishing cross sector partnerships, collaborations & consortia.

Join the discussion

Post your answers below for Simon, Eshaan and Racheal in the comments section and through Twitter or join us at 13.30 on Monday 16 March for a live chat with them.

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