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Law and Finance
Case Study: Surrey 2020
All Local Authorities in the UK are required to produce Community Plans and authorities have adopted a range of approaches to the task. In Surrey, it was decided to use scenario planning to create a vision for Surrey, looking towards the year 2020, as the basis of our Community Planning process. The Surrey Strategic Partnership (SSP), that embraces all the local government authorities, statutory and community public service agencies and voluntary groups, provided an inclusive mechanism to link the diverse Surrey communities.
The SSP had a number of objectives in launching the "Surrey in 2020" project. It was important to stimulate debate and discussion within organisations and among citizens about the challenges facing Surrey in the future, so as to help them identify realistic options available to tackle the challenges. This would enable the development of a shared sense of direction for the public service organisations within Surrey and so build a consensus for action. To help and advise on the appropriate technology for scenario building, the SSP appointed SAMI Consulting.
Through the SAMI process, the team (three people from SAMI and three from the SSP) consulted over 800 stakeholders using interviews, focus groups and major events. This information was then analysed and evaluated to identify six key themes that brought together the issues that would influence Surrey's future: Economic Development; Travel, access and mobility; Housing and associated infrastructure; Changing lifestyles; Communities, culture and identity; and the Future of public service delivery and democracy.
Expert workshops (involving almost 200 specialists) were set up for each theme to test and explore the issues, which resulted in the identification of three key drivers that will have most impact on the issues over the next twenty years and that the partnership had most influence over. These were firstly, culture; second, public and organisational response to change; and third, leadership by and co-operation between public services, business and the voluntary sector. These drivers formed the basis for constructing four scenarios (possible pictures of Surrey in 2020) based on different possible decisions or outcomes of the three key drivers. For ease of communication we have entitled them:
You can find out more on the results of the scenario exercise by going to the Surrey Strategic Partnership pages on http://surreycommunity.info. There is also a CDROM using characters to personalise the scenarios.
The scenarios represent distinctly different visions of what Surrey could look like in 2020, with the consequent implications for citizens, business and public services. We have taken pains to ensure that the scenarios are credible and consistent - and that they are named and described as dispassionately as possible. It is important to avoid the temptation for people to react initially to the scenarios with a simple like/dislike, or to assume that everyone will share the same aspirations or revulsions!
Using the scenarios to develop strategy
The scenarios - in the form of the CDROM - have been used to engage a large number of "ordinary citizens" with the surprising result that they felt that politicians should take more risks in order to foster Forward Thinking, and also largely endorsed the need for public transport & environmental concerns, as well as re-emphasising the need for affordable housing.
Following this and extensive feedback with the SSP members, the team have created from these a Vision for Surrey under the 6 headings (housing, transport etc). This visions statement has been used to brainstorm with the SSP "what are the big ideas that would move this forward?". Of the 11 ideas generated, some were around sharing delivery points for services, others around radical ways of tackling the affordable housing issue. The SSP has further suggested creating an overall strap line & focus for action in terms of "healthy Surrey" - spas, sporting facilities, businesses provide health monitoring & share with public, etc.
The Council is expected to endorse the Vision at the end of October; in the meantime, by tieing the vision statements to productivity targets for departments in the Policy & Productivity review it has become clear that some of the benchmark parameters coming out of the Vision statement have no owner, leading to defining new partnerships.
One of the first challenges to confront the team was the sheer numbers of people who wanted to become involved in the process. At first this seemed a gratifying response: the idea of contributing to, and becoming involved in the development of scenarios for Surrey was evidently appealing to many citizens and groups within the County. The issue became one of managing this response and trying to ensure a reasonable balance of views and contributions from within Surrey, as well as obtaining perspectives from outside the County.
In retrospect, the team did not sufficiently link the work to the world outside Surrey- for instance the influence of London's developments, and other insights into future trends, such as Foresight 2020.
We wanted to be as inclusive as possible in terms of involvement of the SSP in the process, and sought to use a very broad spread of representation as a steering group. In retrospect we should have appointed a small and involved Advisory/Management Board at the start, and communicated with other members of the SSP less directly.
Dr Michael Edley, Community Planning Manager at Surrey County Council and Project Manager on the Surrey 2020 project has identified four main benefits from the project: -
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