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David Smith is on secondment to the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). Now in the second week of secondment David is seeking your views.
It's Friday morning and the sun is streaming through the windows here at Ploughland House in Wakefield - a welcome respite from the rather grim weather that has been typical of the week.
I have a list of duties now which I am happy to share. In summary it's a mixture of things which includes:
- Supporting the Third Sector Advisory Group, established last year
- Providing advice from a third sector perspective to the staff at the OPCC (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner)
- Engaging with the sector at the district level
This week I have been discussing representation with the Third Sector Advisory Group and considering the value of the Compact.
To advocate or not to advocate?
I've had some very interesting conversations this week with individuals who represent the sector on the Community Safety Partnerships round West Yorkshire.
Transform Leeds (The Leeds Transforming Local Infrastructure programme) queried the use of the word "representative" and suggested a better alternative would be "advocate".
This is something I've talked it through with the Third Sector Advisory Group. The discussion demonstrated clearly how hard it is to be representative, either of the huge range of expertise in the sector or of the diverse communities it serves. The conclusion was that I should continue to be the sector's advocate on the PCC's Partnership Executive Group (keeping in mind my limitations and seeking back up when needed!). Dialogue and communication is going to be crucial to enabling me to play the role in a meaningful way.
Of course I can't impose the use of the word advocate on the sector - but it would be good to get some views about it.
Five Compacts or One?
Early on in the work of the Third Sector Advisory Group, the PCC was approached about the work that was being done last year to refresh the Compact for Leeds. The PCC, Mark Burns-Williamson, agreed to support the Charter developed by the Leeds Third Sector Partnership and can now be heard saying that in public from time to time.
I get quite mixed views from the sector about the value of the Compact, with some clearly feeling it's a concept past its sell by date. In some areas the same territory is covered by a third sector strategy.
Compact Voice, I think rightly, continue to point to its importance at national level and its very wide currency at local level.
For myself, I think the Compact plays a significant role in creating the right climate for relationships; if it works it becomes embedded into day to day relationships and working practices and in the process disappears into the background. That doesn't mean it hasn't had an important impact.
The Police and Crime Commissioner doesn't operate at district level, West Yorkshire has five metropolitan areas (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield) and five Compacts, although only one of them definitely prefers to talk about a third sector strategy.
Should we have a West Yorkshire Compact? What would that mean and what relationship would it have to the district Compacts? I have been giving that some thought this week, it would be good to hear views.