Communities are frequently at loggerheads with their local authority. Naturally so. Call it constructive tension. However, to know more about how communities and local authorities work well together – and, increasingly, they do – we focus on the role of the local community development committee.

Since their establishment became law in 2014, 33 local community development committees (LCDCs) have been established in local authority areas.

The main role of LCDCs is to implement six-year local, economic and community plans (LECPs). The plans were adopted in all local authority areas in 2015.

The community elements of all plans are similar, and include actions on health and wellbeing, drug and alcohol abuse, age-friendly progammes and youth initiatives, the environment, integration, disabilities, unemployment, and many other issues.

The first programmes to come under the oversight of the LCDCs were LEADER and the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP). They also have a role in Healthy Cities, and in the Community Enhancement Programme.

Membership includes elected members, local authority staff, representatives of public bodies that provide services, and communities. The majority of members favour local and community development participation, hence the LCDCs’ bottom-up approach.

A world of acronyms

LCDCs were born at a time when quite a number of similar acronyms were floating about in the community and voluntary sector. For example, in 2014, we already had the LCDP – the local and community development programme – which was a national programme for communities that has since been replaced by SICAP.

We know. Stick with this. You might just get more clarity.

We also have more than 50 LDCs (local development companies), which are still very much around. They’re also known as programme implementers (or PIs) for SICAP.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of connections between these three. Since Phil Hogan’s time as Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, there has been a new emphasis on collaboration between communities and councils. And what are they doing together? They term it local and community development.

“[The LCDC] must consider the economic elements of the plan in order to enhance co-ordination with the community elements and ultimately integrate the two elements, but it does not have a role in deciding on the economic elements. It has a general role in seeking to ensure effectiveness, consistency, co-ordination and avoidance of duplication between the various elements of local authority activities in the community,” says government.

Monaghan’s LCDC was involved in the campaign to challenge stereotypes that featured on the front cover of Changing Ireland’s current issue (Issue 60, June–July 2018). LCDCs rarely make the front pages in your local paper, though Monaghan’s work shows it can be done.

Interested in reading more about the state of Ireland’s community development sector? Check out our latest issue.

Main photo: Rawpixel.