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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Opening the Art Gallery

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

At the opening of the Pewsey Art Gallery Meg gave the following remarks. 


I want to thank you for inviting me today.


It’s good to be able to see for myself the benefits of your centre and how it is expanding. The Art centre is a great addition to the PACT centre, (Pewsey Area Community Trust), and adds to the range of community services and events already offered.


Community organisations up and down the country, like PACT, are vital institutions. They provide important benefits to citizens and the communities in which they live, for instance they can be:

?        service providers, delivering more responsive local services,

?        be an advocate for individuals and groups who require an independent voice, and

?        act as a catalyst and link between different groups, different communities.


Their value lies in being local, in developing expertise in providing the community-based solutions appropriate to a particular area.


I understand that PACT makes a positive difference in this area in a number of ways, but three have been suggested as the core elements:

?        Offering IT services & facilities helping people improve their access to information; connecting people and providing a boost for individuals, local businesses and the community.

?        Having a meeting space available for small local community groups, helping them survive which in turn makes community cohesion stronger.

?        The new Arts centre, of course, providing a new social benefit, able to host exhibitions and sell locally made arts and crafts.


Local people building up their own resources, taking action to transform and improve their own area, all developing stronger and more cohesive communities. Communities able to better survive whatever is thrown at them.


It’s also good to see this sort of social enterprise flourishing. Being entrepreneurial isn’t just about having good ideas and being able to turn them into a profit. Social enterprises are people-centred, having social as well as financial ambitions - a double bottom line.


In the recently announced Local Government White Paper we have included ideas to support communities. A couple of key points:

?        a new duty requiring authorities to inform, consult and involve local residents, groups of people or organisations who have an interest or are likely to be affected by the local authority's functions, services or activities.                          

?        the new 'Community Call for Action' process - communities to work closely with their local ward councillors ensuring that the voice of the citizen is heard.


We also want to support more community management and ownership of public assets. We have just published the Quirk Review of Community Ownership and Management of Assets. The Quirk Review concluded that there are benefits of community management and ownership of public assets. Given your success here that’s not much of a surprise to you I expect.


Helping build community capacity is part of what we are about. We value the important role of centres like PACT. They have a social and economic benefit and contribute to improving the lives of citizens and their communities.


I wish the PACT centre every success. 


For further details: http://www.thepactcentre.org.uk/index.html


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