Column: Together we have the power to change

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“So the People’s Powerhouse event took place last week in Doncaster and it was a great success with some fantastic debate. We’ve had some very positive feedback from the attendees and we were even trending on twitter.

“The conference was originally born from frustration at the overwhelmingly male dominated ‘Northern Powerhouse’ conference exhibition in Manchester earlier in the year. This is when Donna Hall, Chief Executive of Wigan Council and I set about organising an alternative ‘unconference’ namely the People’s Powerhouse.

The event was an opportunity to share experiences, learn from each other and debate policy and other issues with people from a range of experiences, backgrounds and disciplines.

“The event was an opportunity to share experiences, learn from each other and debate policy and other issues with people from a range of experiences, backgrounds and disciplines. The best decisions are made by groups of people who broadly reflect the population and we need to get much better at this in local government.

“Whilst our frustration started in gender balance, after all 50% of the population are women, it is much more than that. Within a few hours of a twitter rant, the desire for a different types of conversation became immediately apparent

“I’m fuelled by a belief that strong vibrant economies require strong cohesive communities, that growth needs to be good growth, and that a rising tide does not float all boats. We need to design communities with people in mind, attract growth with people in mind and do things with people, not to people and to encourage their contribution. Some people will say this is soft or fluffy, I say it’s the only way to deliver good sustainable growth. It’s at the heart of Mayor Ros Jones manifesto and an ambition shared across our public, private and voluntary sector. What you do, how you do it, and having people at the heart of decision making pays dividends. In the words of Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, one of our speakers, “open the doors of this powerhouse and let the people in.”

“There is a huge opportunity for all sectors to collaborate and share ideas, and bring back the best ideas that can be implemented elsewhere. We want to find new ways of making it easier to influence policy and decision making, spot innovations and help share what’s working by bringing private, public, voluntary and community voices together in a new way across the North.

“We will now be taking forward the findings from the People’s Powerhouse and see how this can be used to help the residents of Doncaster.”