Public relations position in the community
Public participation is directly responsible for all minor and major developments taking place in a particular community. Constitutionally, the supremacy of the government as the principal decision maker in conjunction with the relevant jurisdictions is acknowledged. Therefore, its involvement besides being a political norm is critical to the development of the society (Janda, Berry & Goldman, 2008, p.42). The position of the public in the community affairs is grounded on the government and private projects facilitated and the impacts that they impose on the lives of the people. The aspect of planning is essential through the provision of a blueprint that also aids the government to adjust its budgeting. Furthermore, being a political culture, it is an avenue that the government utilizes to fulfill some of their objectives to the people as long as the project lasts. It is regarded as an act that blindfolds only the minds of the conservatives contrary to free thinkers. This paper, therefore, defines community planning, explains the issues, concerns, and implications of public involvement in the plans with particular regard to the Local Agenda 21, Leicester City and the UK. Furthermore, it critically analyses the perspectives of the selected example about other projects discussed by different scholars. In addition, it addresses the aims and objectives of the project, Relationship between the local authorities and the Leicester community emphasizing on the degree of power sharing and the nature of decisions people are invited to float opinions. Finally, it highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the methods used to carry out the study.
Community planning and development
Public involvement in community planning is critical and also problematic. Research conducted holds that majority of the American population are in support of the general community projects but ends up complaining about their percentage of contribution. Community planning is defined as a process motivated to engage and assemble all members of the community to create a healthy, equitable, convenient, and a more productive condition for the benefit of the current and future generations (Kelly, 2010, p.16). The primary drive is to engage all community members to be able to get involved in activity aimed at fulfilling their needs actively. For example, focusing on the local agenda 21 of the Leicester city, a lot has been achieved with time. The community, government and non-governmental bodies played a bigger role in ensuring its success though the process is ongoing. The milestones covered is through continuous government support and the unwavering trust that the people had towards the implication of the project to their future generation. Indeed, this is a mark signifying the essential benefits of the public towards the community projects.
Aims and Objectives of the Local Agenda 21
Conceivably, in the year 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development adopted agenda 21, the major focus of Chapter 28 was to emphasize on the activities of the local authorities in support of the agenda. The major aim and in regard to the principle stake holder which is the local authority was to; construct, operate, and to maintain social, economic plus the environmental infrastructure. In addition, the local authorities were to oversee the planning processes, establish regulations and policies related to environment and finally, assist in the implementation of sub-national and national policies. The objective of the project was to foster the development of social, economic and environmental infrastructure of the community of Leicester (Ignazio,2012, p. 230). Environmental conditions of Leicester was unfavorable to meet the economic and social demands of the people and thus the reason for preference.
Leicester community center
Relationship between the Local Authorities and the Leicester community
The local authority is the immediate body of governance to the people compared to any other agency. Chapter 28 of agenda 21, emphasized on the need to give full responsibility of community development to local authorities. The entire process was aimed at offering services to the public based on their own priorities. Originally, before any developmental operations, the local authority was mandated to carry out a survey and inquire information from the public on what should be done to ensure social and economic sustainability. It was very easy to access the views of the public since they are within a common neighborhood. Therefore, the local authority and the community are linked through existence and the fact that the members of the local authority are the same members of the community (Davis, 2000, p. 23). In relation to power, the community members had excess mandate on what to be done as they are the chief determinants of the success or failure of the project. The role of the local authorities were to act as facilitators and process necessary funds.
Ladder of Citizen Participation
In reference to Arstein ladder of citizen participation, there are several positions that can be applied in ensuring public engages fully in the development affairs. The level applied in Leicester community was that of partnership. Under this ladder, the community members just like what happened in Leicester together with the power holders share the responsibility of making proper decisions. Here, power is redistributed among the stakeholders and therefore all views and preferences are placed in consideration following the agreement.
Public participation in community projects
Ethical standards for professional planners
Public participation in community projects points out an aspect of ethics and standards bringing in professional planners in play. Community members by themselves may not be at a position of accessing some of the best professionals hence the need of taking the local project nationally, allowing entire public to participate where necessary. If we picture Leicester City, for example, it is only surrounded by a population of 272000 people. Even though the project is communal, there are lots of influence that the government too is likely to bring especially regarding the non-governmental organizations and investments.
In a different perspective, ethics is paramount in ensuring that the needs of the community are prioritized and not that of the partner organization, this explains why much of the plans are better if conducted within the public domain. Influence of the public in the maintenance of standards is key to elimination of urban politics and other micro-spatial urban practices within the cities (Iveson, 2013, p. 942). Iveson, (2013, p. 943) asserts that, during the planning of the urban center, there are spaces, which must be put in place for it to meet the requirements of an urban center. Currently, the areas considered during planning are infringed by the public, making urban center congested hence unconducive for town operations. The primary source of the problem, in this case, is the public and this can settle by incorporating the needs and fundamental requirements of the people in planning (Brownil & Carpenter, 2007, p. 401). Contrary to the position held by Iveson, the city development project, just like the Leicester city project should have begun with a consultation to capture the interest of the community before any other consideration is made.
Public involvement like a democratic process
Public involvement in any planning process is integral to the democratic process of any nation. Democracy is viewed as the government of the people, for and by the people. For this reason, it is by the right that the members of the community are involved in any community plans organized by either private or the government. It is, therefore, an act of democracy to engage the public in the local plans of the community. It is a way that makes the members of the community to feel part of the budgeting funded by their money. The United Kingdom government, for example, had to get involved in the development of the Leicester City after the rise in demands from the local community. The city community was among the top ten places in the UK that were highly deprived. By 2003, 7% of the population which was 121,000 by then were unemployed.
The government has to support planning with a primary motive of engaging the local members for democracy to reign. In comparison to the Localism agenda in the United Kingdom, the conservative coalition government proposed a policy encouraging decentralization of power for the purpose of enhancing economic efficiency and conducive administration. Though the debate on localism agenda is ongoing at least the government on its own is coming up with reforms that can benefit the locals (Tait & Inch, 2016, p. 174). The challenge with the government projects is the fact that their motive is usually hidden. In the short run, it may be for the benefit of the people, but after a while, the opposite becomes a reality. It is, therefore, essential for the public to be fully involved right from scratch.
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