Cambridgeshire Local Councils Conference

Discover how we used our event organisation skills and networks into rural communities to bring community leaders together.

About the project

Funder

Cambridgeshire County Council funded the Conference through its Support Cambridgeshire grant.

Why is this needed?

Through our County Council-funded ‘Support Cambridgeshire’ contract, Cambridgeshire ACRE has been commissioned to provide infrastructure development support to local councils. A key element of this work has been about enhancing the communication channels between all levels of local government.

One of the ways this has been achieved is through the delivery of an annual local councils conference where every local council in the County has been invited to send along representatives to a day-long event filled with speakers, learning workshops and opportunities to network with other attendees.

Cambridgeshire ACRE’s role has been to manage this annual event, co-ordinating the agenda and speakers and managing the bookings process. The Conference has typically opened with key note addresses aimed at passing on key messages from higher level authorities to local councils and workshop sessions to allow messages to be fed back in. The afternoon sessions have been filled with learning workshops on topics of interest to local councils (based on feedback collected through an annual survey) so that attendees left the Conference with useful knowledge, hints and tips to take back to their communities to implement. We have always considered the opportunities for attendees to network with each other to be a key part of the conference so have always provided time and space for this to happen, including over lunch.

The Conference has been run annually since 2017, gaining a larger attendance from a wider range of local councils year on year.

2020 presented a whole new challenge, with the event having to be moved online in order that it might still go ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cambridgeshire ACRE researched options and recommended the use of an online conference system hosted by Ivent https://ivent-hq.com/. Delivering the conference in this way meant more pre-planning including pre-recording keynote speakers and making a number of videos to be shown during workshops. The usual marketplace of exhibitors was moved online into a series of private booths that attendees could visit and an online networking lounge allowed for as-near-as real conference experience as possible.

How can you get involved?

Planning for the 2021 Conference is underway and more information will be posted to our Events page in due course.

What impact has our work had?

Testimony

Feedback from local councils attending the annual conference is collected anonymously. Comments from the last event included:

“Well done in enabling the conference to take place. It appeared to be well attended and there was plenty of engagement, attendees asking questions and commenting. Being virtual it is a very different experience, but because of the lively online engagement and breakouts you do still feel a participant.”

“It was a very professionally run event. Ultimately, in my opinion you cannot beat face to face contact but this event ran it pretty close.”

“I felt I could speak with more people online and it was good to see all Parish Councils helping each other and sharing ideas.”

Links

Who can I talk to about this work?