STEP 2: PUT PEN TO PAPER
Prepare four letters:
- To local community groups who may want to be involved in building the CEC
- To property owners
- To the Council where your CEC will be situated
- To local residents of the area.
There are basic templates in Appendix D,E,F,G,H to guide you if needed.
This SLIDES link is to a useful presentation for meeting with members of Council, property owners and prospective partners/ groups that gives an overview of how it works and how different stakeholders can benefit- Template slides for CEC teams. ‘Make a copy’ to edit.
2.1 A letter to local community groups – See Appendix H
Find Groups to connect with and help to build your Climate Emergency Alliance to run your CEC– see a list of 50 generic groups in Appendix I of this handbook for ideas. This letter should include:
- The name and a brief outline of the purpose of your CEC- Outline as described on Appendix B of the handbook, and NAME eg The Hub – Hackney CEC, The Nest Manchester CEC, The Den – Bournemouth CEC , The Social centre – Cardiff CEC, Action Hub – Hereford CEC, The Hive – Birmingham CEC, Eco space – Plymouth CEC . We would like all centres to use the strap line Town /city – CEC. This will help to build a network and infrastructure across UK Cities.
- How their local group could benefit from being part of the CEC– access to space, resources, sharing skills and knowledge, funding, building local support networks.
- Why your group would like them to be involved– what do they specifically bring that will help or be useful to the project. It is important that they feel they would be a valued part of the community.
- An invitation to a Climate Emergency Alliance meeting to discuss your plans, what they would like to bring and how you could all benefit.
This project brief outline leaflet needs to be discussed and designed early, so that you can all be on the same page.
2.2 A letter to the building owner / property developer which includes: (template Appendix D)
- A brief project outline leaflet of the purpose of your CEC – see Appendix B
- What kind of groups would be using it. You can base this on the Groups that have shown an interest following your letters to them (above).
- What benefits the property owner can expect in return–
- Financial returns (business rates relief model of 80-100% OFF)
- Flexible solution to any delays in planning, leasing or contracting
- Concrete systems that will maintain their building – basic repairs maintenance and improvements, free security / caretakers.
- The property owner will be facilitating creative and positive changes locally which will help them build good relationships with the community and local Council.
- What is expected from the property owner – that they assure a minimum time (e.g. 6 months to 1 year plus ) for your Group to operate. In addition, a contribution to the CEC’s funding. See business model Appendix A. This contribution will help the CEC with paying coordination crew ( creating employment) / volunteer living expenses, the utility bills, major repairs e.g. roof or large windows and other running costs. It is expected that the property owner will offer to pay all or a percentage of the utilities as they are saving 80-100%. The utility bill can be reduced by implementing a renewable energy plan for the premises.
- Include in the letter an invitation for the property owner to meet and liaise with you regarding any specific needs / requests. This helps to build a dialogue and a relationship. Arrange a meeting to discuss creating a ‘meanwhile lease’.
- NB The owner may only be able to lease a property to you for a short period of time initially 6 MONTHS OR 1-2 YEARS ( with the possibility of extension due to planning delays). Don’t be put off by this, your CEC is the people / community it brings together and they can readily move to a new space in your city. Simply ensure you have a group of people who form your ‘next building team’ to work on getting the next place, while you still have the first.
2.3 Letter to the Council – Template Appendix G
This letter introduces your group to the Council, and your goals. Working with the Council is important as they can provide you with crucial support that will help you to work with the property owner. Or offer you a Council-owned building (the Council must also pay Business Rates on empty properties).
(Every council maintains a voids list of vacant council owned and commercial properties in their area, these can sometimes be acquired by request of Freedom of Information requests)
The letter should include:
- A brief outline of your CEC project, including an outline of the Business Model (Appendix A).
- A list of groups who have shown an interest in being part of your CEC.
- Reference to your Council’s declaration of a Climate and Ecological Emergency (if they have made one) and/or any statements they have made expressing concerns about the climate.
- Reference to evidence of the local community’s concerns about the CE, such as local schools’ youth strikes, the presence of other groups etc.
- Make specific reference to how your CEC can help the Council deliver on its CE plan by pointing to particular goals in their plan that you plan to help deliver on.
2.4 Letter to local residents see Appendix E
2.5 Letter asking businesses for help with resources – template Appendix F