Traditionally local authorities did not play significant role in community and economic development. Since the 1990s new programs have promoted local partnerships with the objectives of the economic and social development. They involve targeting of resources in particular areas, or towards the needs of particular groups. Some program might emphasize job creation while others prioritise groups within particular disadvantages areas.
A common feature is that they involve local groups in preparing their own plans. Local authorities play the role in providing support, infrastructure and services. Most programs are operated under EU development funds and may be co-financed by the State.
Local Enterprise Offices
The City and County Enterprise Boards commenced in the mid-1990s. They provided grant aid, management and support to small enterprises with less than 10 persons. The role is now played by the Local Enterprise Offices. See the section on industrial incentives.
The level of grant assistance by County Enterprise Boards (now LEOs) is relatively small. The principal functions involves the provision of services and supports.
City and County Development Boards were established in each county and city, with a view to the more coherent delivery of services by state agencies at local level. The principal purpose of CDP were to coordinate services with increased local participation.
A key part of their functions was to combat social exclusion and promote local development. The purpose was to bring local authorities and local development parties such as the area partnerships, enterprise boards and leader groups together in a more coherent fashion. They were dissolved in 2014. Some of their functions passed to the Local Enterprise Offices.
The CDPs comprised representatives of state agencies, social partners, local authorities and local development bodies. They adopted a county or city strategy for economic, social and cultural development. The CDP included the chairpersons of local authority, a strategic policy committee and the authority manager.
CDPs devised strategies for sociocultural and economic development within their area. They oversaw implementations of the strategy. Boards are expected to take account of the national anti-poverty strategy.
In addition to the CDPs strategic policy committees were established to develop policy in key local government functional areas. One-third of the membership is from sectoral representatives. The Council determines which sectors should be represented on each strategic policy committee.
Local partnerships are typically formed as companies with directors from a Stage agency, community and voluntary representatives, councillors and others.
Partnerships have been formed, in particular in disadvantaged areas to promote development.
LEADER is an EU based initiative for promoting enterprise in the rural community through local action groups. There are over 30 area based groups in rural areas implementing local development plans. It seeks to mobilise community and voluntary effort. Participants may include community representatives, representatives of voluntary structures, state agencies, local authorities and private sectors.
Economic & Community Plan
Every local authority is to make in accordance with regulations or guidelines issued by the Minister, a six-year local economic and community plan. The plan should be for the promotion of economic development in that area of the authority and the promotion of local and community development.
Promotion of economic developments includes creating or sustaining jobs, promoting interest of the community including enterprise and economic development across the economic sectors, foreign direct investment, indigenous industry, micro enterprise and SME enterprises, tourism, agriculture, forestry and the marine sectors and other natural resources.
Their role is to include identifying local attributes which are essential to enhancing local economic performance such as the policy of the environment, rural and urban including accessibility, physical character and infrastructure, employment opportunities and quality of life.
It is to include the means by which these may be equalised to enhance competitiveness and be supported by investment decisions relating to economic infrastructure including transportation, water services, energy, communications and waste management together with social and cultural facilities and promotion of multi-economic activities.
The functions include supporting enhancement of local innovation capacity, including investment in R&D capacity, technology transfer, up-skilling, re-skilling, identifying, for existing and prospective businesses, opportunities to engage with local government on related matters in setting up and managing their businesses and to ensure speedy and coordinated access and response.
Functions include identifying local strengths and opportunities, weakness and deficiencies related to economic performance and in relation to same having regard to the same, having regard to economic and employment trends, the means of maintaining and augmenting them. It is to identify economic potential and the requirements to realise it. It is to seek means of addressing and rectifying weaknesses and deficiency.
Measures in Plan
Promotion of local and community development includes, promoting the interests of local communities, or any part of the or group within the community, including measures to enhance quality of life and well-being of communities. This include measures aimed at
- tackling poverty and disadvantage, social exclusion through support for basic services and other initiatives;
- supporting training, up-skilling, creating and sustaining employment and self-employment
- investing in local development through community-focused supports and services,
- the provision of infrastructure and community facilities and investment in physical regeneration and environmental improvements
- supporting the capacity of local communities to improve quality of life,
- supporting social enterprise, social capital, volunteering and active citizenship;
- developing integrated and evidence-based approaches to local service planning and delivery;
- identifying needs and in local communities to enhance well-being and developing sustainable solutions that make the best use of local assets, strengths and opportunities;
- exploiting and coordinating funding sources from the public, private, community and voluntary sectors to stimulate and support local development and sustainability;
- promoting, supporting and facilitating community involvement in policy development and decision-making processes related to planning, development and delivery of services.
The plan is to be consistent with the core strategy and the objectives of the development plan and the regional, spatial and economic strategy, regional planning guidelines applicable to the area of the plan. The plan may include objectives for the sustainable development of the area. The plan is to include and integrate economic elements in respect of local economic development, and community elements in respect of local and community development. The plan is to comply with policy guidelines or regulations made by the Minister.
Making the Plan
In making the plan, the local authority and a committee are to have regard to
- the need to integrate sustainable and development considerations, available resources,
- the need for co-operate and co-ordinate with other local and public authorities and public funded bodies,
- the need for consistency with government policies and objectives.
The local authority is to consult with members of the public through a public consultation process. It shall give a public notice and invite observations. It shall prepare and publish a report on the observations and submissions and have regard to them when preparing the economic elements of the plan. Local authorities are to consult with other public funded bodies and authorities that have a contribution to make or are making to economic development within the area of the local authority and other bodies as the Minister may prescribe.
A draft of the economic elements of the plan is to be prepared for consideration by the municipal district members and regional assembly. Each is to adopt a statement on the draft for consideration by the elected members and the committee.
The consideration of the economic elements of the draft plan by the regional assembly and the district members is to relate to its consistency with core strategies of the development plan, the regional, spatial and economic strategy on regional planning guidelines, the community elements of the draft plan submitted by the committee above.
The adoption by the municipal district members of a statement above in relation to the draft plan is a reserved function.
The committee, in developing the community elements of the plan, must consult with members of the public through a public consultation process. This may be done online or otherwise. A report is to be made on representations and regard is to be had to it in preparing the plan.
The committee is to consult with public authorities and public funded bodies exercising functions that have a contribution to make to community development within the area and consult with persons prescribed by regulations. Following consultations above, the committee is to submit a draft of the plan to consideration by the municipal district and the regional assembly members. Each is to adopt a statement on the draft for consideration by the elected members of the council.
Consideration of the community elements of the draft of the plan by the regional assembly and municipal district members and local authority relate to its consistency with the core strategy and objectives of the planning and the development plan, the regional, spatial or economic strategy or regional planning guidelines and the economic elements of a draft of the plan prepared above. The adoption by the municipal district members is a reserved function.
Regulations and Guidelines
The Minister after consultation with such public authorities as he considers appropriate may make regulations either generally or in relation to a regional assembly, a local authority or committee or classes of them by way of guidance in relation to elements of the plan, its preparation, coordination, integration, timing.
The Minister may issue general guidelines in relation to principles in the preparation of a plan, matters to be taken into account on implementation arrangements as well as other matters of a general policy nature as the Minister considers appropriate.
Following the adoption of statements provided for above, the statements adopted by the committee and any plan shall integrate the economic and community elements and should be made by the elected members of the council with or without amendment.
A copy of the local economic and community plan shall be published on the Internet and should be available for inspection by members of the public.
The economic and community elements of the plan are to be implemented. The local authority is to coordinate, manage, and oversee the implementation of the economic elements of the plan. It is to coordinate, manage and oversee implementation of those elements and any projects or programs prepared to support and advance the implementation of the economic elements of the plan.
The local authority shall seek to ensure effectiveness, consistency and co-ordination and avoidance of duplication between the economic development programs and the functions of the local authority in relation to promoting the interests of local communities and other functions above. They are to pursue co-ordination generally of all economic development programs within their area.
The local authority is to prepare, review and update an implementation strategy in respect of a plan. This is a reserved function.
Each local authority is to monitor and review the economic elements of the local economic and community plans. Implementation is to be a benchmark against the indicators of performance. The actions, plans or strategies are to be revised as necessary.
The economic elements of the plan are to be reviewed at least once every six years and amendment as considered necessary.
Each local authority is to include in its annual report an assessment in relation to the implementation and where appropriate review of the plan during the previous period.