Introducing the East of England Compact Network

blog author adam pickeringOur research suggested that regional Compact networks add real value to local Compacts. Now we are putting that idea to the test by establishing the East of England Compact Network
Back in October I wrote a blog entitled “Compact networking: A challenge worth taking on”. I laid out some of the evidence pulled out from last year’s annual survey of local Compacts, which showed an interesting correlation between regions that have some form of cross border Compact network, and the perceived performance of Compacts.  Indeed, the Compacts working with the South West regional Compact Group, the West Midlands Compact Panel and the Humber sub-region Compact in Action group were perceived to be some of the most effective in the country by respondents.
A coincidence? Perhaps.
Whilst I could pepper this blog with examples of good work that has been done by such networks (this project in the Humber sub region for example) it’s not always obvious what their impact is. For instance, a cynical view might suggest that networks have arisen and are working well because their local Compacts are working well – not the other way around. As far as I know, that could be right.
Rather than engaging in a frustrating chicken and egg argument I have decided to put the issue to the test. If creating a space for Compact workers to network, share ideas and collaborate leads to improvements in how local Compacts are perceived to be performing, then creating a new network should lead to measurable improvements.
Having worked hard to ensure a comprehensive understanding of what is or isn’t working with local Compacts across England, Compact Voice continues to try and put that information to good use. We are supporting the creation of an East of England Compact Network and have, following positive existing examples, decided to provide support for the delivery of a collaborative project that adds value for all participating local Compacts.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of people to give their time towards testing the impact of Compact networking. At our first meeting on March 7th we agreed both purpose and direction for the fledgling network and have subsequently chosen a project to develop a peer review tool to enable comparative assessment of local Compacts in the region.
To support the project Compact Voice has funded the appointment of a consultant who will be supporting the work. That person is none other than Simon Banks, Compact expert and former Community Planning and Engagement Officer at Essex County Council.
We don’t know what the East of England Compact Network might deliver, but we know we will learn from it, which we will of course share with our membership in due course. I’m looking forward to posting updates about our progress in future blog entries.

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