Compact in action: Derby Compact

Derby has won the Local Compact of the Year award for its attempts to publicise the agreement and resolve conflicts. John Plummer finds out why the city gets it right

Derby Compact members with Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact (centre)
Derby Compact members with Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact (centre)

Derby has the best Compact in the country, according to the Commission for the Compact.

The city won the commission's Local Compact of the Year award earlier this month, beating fellow finalists Calderdale, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Haringey and Wolverhampton. So what is it doing right?

The commission praised Derby's attempts to embed Compact principles in local strategic partnerships, develop a conflict resolution process and publicise the document across the public and voluntary sectors.

Kim Harper, vice-chair of Derby Compact and executive director of Derby Council for Voluntary Service, says adherence to the document has increased significantly over the past two years.

She says it has been used only twice to resolve disagreements during this period: once in a funding dispute between Derby City Council and a community group, and once to amend a tender document that failed to follow Compact principles. On both occasions, the breaches were recognised and amended before they turned into full-scale disagreements.

"We try to use the Compact to resolve things before they get to that stage," says Harper.

Building the Compact into policies and documents is becoming a feature of many local Compacts. "There is a real recognition that everyone is better off if we work collaboratively," says Harper.

She says informing public sector workers about the Compact and how to use it is particularly important if the document is to have practical value. "I hope this award will be a platform to make the Compact in Derby even stronger," she says. "There have been a lot of meetings to discuss what we're doing, and this makes them worthwhile."

The Compact Award for Excellence at a National Level went to the Department of Health, which reviewed its third sector funding to make it Compact-compliant.

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