Here’s an extract from a local authority’s community strategy that I’m reading. I’ve changed the name of the place, but haven’t made any other changes.

[Our vision is that] Borchester will be a dynamic and lively district, there will be global recognition of its growing and diverse economy, which provides excellent opportunities for local people. We will have nationally and internationally renowned facilities attracting major events linked to health, learning, leisure, culture and business investment.

The revitalised Borchester town centre will be alive and bustling, with lots for people to do. It will be a major retail destination in the region, where people choose to shop because of its excellent range and quality of shops and accessible location.

We will have transformed the deprived neighbourhoods in Borchester, improving the quality of life for all our citizens in particular our children and young people, older people and those who suffer the effects of poverty.

All members of the community will have equal access to services and opportunities. People will feel safer in their homes, on the streets of their neighbourhoods and in the town centres, at any time of day or night.”

Now, without Googling the particular combinations of words, can you guess which place that’s the vision for? Even whether it’s rural or urban, south, midlands or north?

I bet you can’t. And the lesson is: if your strategy could be completely summarised as “everything will be nice”, it is not a strategy.


Written by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.