Building community wealth in Lewes

CLES has been working with Lewes District Council since 2019. Here, Jo Harper, Head of Business Planning and Performance for Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough Councils, reflects on their progress, what the future holds and a the potential of a new dedicated post to support their community wealth building efforts.

Lewes District Council is committed to building community wealth. Our corporate plan, adopted in 2020, puts community wealth building and helping to develop a just transition to a green economy at the centre of its policies.

“good progress has been made”

Delivering this in practice has been a huge challenge, particularly when set against the backdrop of a global pandemic. However, good progress has been made, and we are hopeful that, with the recruitment of a new, dedicated Project Manager in Community Wealth Development, we will be able to progress further and faster towards these exciting objectives.

Coming out of the pandemic we hosted Recovery Summits which brought together key anchor institutions to develop traction for a multi-agency approach. Working with our Local Enterprise Partnership members we have gained a commitment to focus procurement more on local contractors, suppliers and providers.

“ensure more added value in our procurement activities”

We have adopted a social value charter and have embedded employment and training plans into our key development tenders and, in some cases, required local labour agreements. This, we hope, will ensure more added value in our procurement activities, alongside giving preference to local providers.

Bringing external contracts back in-house has also been a key part of our strategy: our public convenience and office cleaning contracts are both now in house and other contracts are due to follow.

“invested significant resources into our decarbonisation programme”

We see the decarbonisation of our housing stock as a fantastic opportunity to work with neighbouring authorities to embed community wealth principles. We have invested significant resources into our decarbonisation programme, aiming to encourage local providers to upskill in areas such as solar installation and other sustainability measures.

Currently we are awaiting the outcome of an exciting and innovative bid by a local Community Interest Company to develop a solar farm in the area, which the council has been closely involved with. We have committed an investment of £100k into this programme, if it gets the go-ahead.

We have also been part of a cutting edge LGA Net Zero innovation fund project which has established mechanisms the council can use in the future to bring innovative funding solutions to relevant projects, making use of community wealth building financing options such as climate bonds.

“our new Project Manager in Community Wealth Development will be central”

The next stage of our work is to establish a meaningful anchor institution network in the local area, to bring our partner agencies more on board with our community wealth building approach. We aim to gain more traction with others through this process, and our new Project Manager in Community Wealth Development will be central to achieving this. It is hoped that, through this network, more local providers will be delivering local services and that we can establish the district as a Living Wage Place.

If you want to find out more about what is happening the Lewes district, please get in touch.

You may also be interested in: