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Thread: English Regions

  1. #1
    Senior Member Matt Donnelly's Avatar
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    English Regions

    Hello Wayne,

    I'll start off with the questions then some information. I'm focusing on the English regions because I'm conscious there are Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Scout Councils.

    Could you tell us what your view is of the function of the English Regions, particularly with respect to Regional Commissioners and any other regional volunteer roles? Also what is the interaction meant to be between Regional Service Teams and regional volunteers?

    The role of regional volunteers seems largely invisible on-line. A good example of this is the scarcity of regional scout websites and the difficulty in finding anything out about some regions - even using Google rather than searching around scouts.org.uk - to the point that it seems the English regions are often noticeable by their absence on the scouts.org.uk website. For instance:

    • The "Regional Commissioners" webpage and the "How do I contact the Regional Commissioner" webpage appears to be orphaned from the menu system and can only apparently be accessed by searching;
    • English Regions are not mentioned in the description of the National Structure (although staff are mentioned as working regionally), nor are they mentioned in the description of the Local Structure;
    • There is a brief mention on the UK Chief Commissioners Team webpage of one Chief Commissioner for England being responsible for delivery of the movementís strategy across the regions, but no links or further mention to the regions themselves. The same page introduces the Chief Commissioners for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but doesn't link any further information - e.g. their relevant websites;
    • The Regional Service Teams webpages make only 1 mention of Regional Commissioners and several more references to Assistant Regional Commissioners (Growth), but no further information and at any rate these webpages are buried quite far down into the webpage tree;
    • There are no links to websites for English regions (some do exist), or for that matter to Scouts Scotland/Cymru/Northern Ireland that I've come across.

    Is the low profile of the English Regions intentional for some reason, or has this just happened as a matter of course?

    Thanks

    Matt
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    Hi Matt,

    I guess the short answer is yes, the low profile of the English Regions is intentional because we have not wished to add further to our bureaucracy. I would add however that the role of Regional Commissioner is vital in the support and management of County Commissioners.

    When you last asked a similar question, several regions were piloting websites etc. however I don't believe that these have developed significant traction. I suspect in the same way that, as a Movement generally and at various levels, we have struggled with effective websites.

    Many thanks,
    Wayne
    Wayne Bulpitt

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  5. #3
    Senior Member Matt Donnelly's Avatar
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    Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for your response.

    I had forgotten my earlier post from 2011 (!) but the two together prompt a further question. We have Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Scout Councils, but no English or English region Scout Councils. How do we square that this intermediate structure is good for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not appropriate for England? Do you know if this variant structure was decided at a HQ level, or reflective of regional 'bottom-up' demand? Or perhaps a bit of both?

    Regarding websites, I noticed an advert for Joomla experts on the scouts.org.uk volunteer vacancies page the other day and I wonder if the Chief Commissioner for England might consider seeking volunteer support in providing a consistent web presence for the English regions?

    Thanks

    Matt

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    Hi Matt,

    Even more scarily, I remembered the question although was rather surprised at how long ago it was after searching for it!

    Something that has been discussed periodically, usually informally rather than formally. Whilst a small number of people have advocated a similar structure for the English Regions, the vast majority have wanted to avoid the additional level. I guess that "we square" it as you ask because of the different devolved Governments that exist in S,W and NI. This might have changed with discussion of more regional devolved powers in England, although those appear to be subsiding again now.

    On regional websites, I don't think it's a matter of volunteers with the skills to write the website, if I look (as I do regularly) at a wide range of "Scouting sites" from groups to counties and informal groupings, the significant problem is keeping them updated and relevant, and hence used.

    Thanks again,
    Wayne
    Wayne Bulpitt

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    Senior Member Matt Donnelly's Avatar
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    Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for the further answers. I can see the desire to avoid unnecessary layers, and I know there is general aversion to a 'federal' England both in terms of general politics and Scouting, but recent political happenings (the two referndums chief among them) suggest that the lack of English devolution is the root of many problems in the UK - perhaps boiling down to 'distance from decision-makers'. How much this is reflected in Scouting you're better than I to comment.

    Has this ever been considered the other way around - instead of having a Chief Commissioner (x2) for England plus Regional Commissioners, have a Chief Commisioner for each English Region on a par with the Chief Commissioner. Such an arrangement would flatten the structure somewhat and reduce demands on the top posts to support the whole of England.

    Thanks again

    Matt

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  8. #6
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    It's difficult to make comparisons I think, in part because of the impact that the Compass project has had and also that our "decision makers" are geographically spread in any event. There is no evidence of significant dissatisfaction.

    In terms of structure, it's worth remembering that we started with 4 Chief Commissioners in England (looking after approx. 2 current regions each). A key reason for changing was that County Commissioners did not feel particularly well supported.

    It was felt that having 8 Chief Commissioners for England would make the senior team (UKCC's team) too large for one person to manage. Hence the structure we have.

    As you know, I'm a firm believer the we should focus more on people, rather than structures.
    Wayne Bulpitt

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