3 CAG Consultants (CAG)
CAG Consultants is an Islington based employee owned (ie co-operative) independent consultancy practice established in 1983. Originally set up to provide business consultancy and training services to a growing co-operative sector, it now has around 12 staff (and a large number of associates) and offers training, advisory and consultancy services in the field of community regeneration. Its clients include government departments, local authorities, regional agencies, and voluntary and community organisations.
A) ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
CAG Consultants is structured around three teams :
1 An Environment team which specialises in Sustainable development policies and environmental management in local government including environmental appraisal and strategic environmental assessment policies.
2 An Economic Development and Regeneration Team which specialises in local economic strategies and urban regeneration from a sustainable point of view; analysis of labour supply and demand; advice on partnership development between public, private and community sectors.
3 A Stakeholder Team which specialises in consultation, awareness raising, capacity building, participation and partnership development.
CAG's local economic development/ urban regeneration activities can be understood by highlighting a number of key over-arching themes as follows :
1 Partners in Development
This work reflects CAG's philosophy of balancing social, environmental and economic objectives through the active promotion and participation of public, private and community partners. CAG therefore emphasises the process of partnership: of community consultation, capacity building and the development of organisational processes involving all sectors and interests in a partnership.
2 Area Based Strategies for Regeneration
In order to avoid the pitfall of ad hoc efforts at regeneration, CAG works with a wide range of agencies to draw up coherent programmes to address key issues of local economic development, and to ensure the effective co-ordination and strategic management of economic development policies.
3 Analysis of Labour Supply and Demand
CAG ensures that qualitative analyses of skills, of skill needs/demands and skills mismatches support quantitative accounts. Thus on the supply side CAG's approach is to conduct personal interviews, consultation with local groups, and run focus group discussions with local people. On the demand side employers are interviewed personally to ascertain current and future skill requirements, and to assess employer's training needs.
4 Community Consultation Processes and Economic & Social Inclusion
CAG has developed specialisms in consensus building, conflict resolution, community consultation and empowerment techniques. It advises on the ways in which regeneration and community economic development schemes can reach disadvantaged groups.
5 Enterprise Development and Support
CAG looks at how support for enterprise contributes to an overall local economic development strategy. It has 12 years experience of providing training, advice and support for start-up firms and established companies including conducting feasibility studies and business plans and management approaches for a wide variety of projects.
6 Greening, Sustainable Economic Development
CAG is a leading consultancy in the integration of local economic development with sound environmental strategies by assisting SMEs to improve their environmental performance; encouraging the 'greening of business'; and advising agencies on the creation of jobs through support for green technologies and firms.
C) SOME EXAMPLES OF CAG's WORK IN LONDON
1 Tottenham Community Pathways Project
CAG managed the process involved in producing an Action Plan with a strategic package of projects with funding from the East London Objective 2 Programme. This work included the recruitment and management of 2 neighbourhood workers, appointment and support of 2 neighbourhood committees and a Steering Group, a community audit, and support for local community groups making project bids for funds.
2 Capacity Building of Local Organisations
CAG was commissioned by Hackney Task Force to establish the feasibility of an inner city quality development programme and a preferred supplier network for local organisations. CAG piloted a 'quality standard' for the voluntary sector.
3 The Impact of City Challenge Programmes on Ethnic Minority Communities
On this action research work, CAG revealed the gaps and opportunities as well as good practice in the implementation of equal opportunities within projects; CAG made recommendations about the future direction for Stratford City Challenge to maximise its positive impact on local black communities.
4 Local Agenda 21 process in Greenwich
CAG provided long term advice and support on the design and implementation of Greenwich's Local Agenda 21 process, including its integration with an Eco-Management and Audit System for Greenwich Council. This work involved the designing and facilitation of a series of workshops with LA officers, business and community interests.
CAG has built up a strong reputation for Community-led economic development work way beyond the borough of Islington or indeed London. It is active not only through its consultancy practice frequently commissioned by national and local government agencies, and but as an advocate for economic development that places the residents of local communities at the heart of regeneration development so that it is sustainable and organic.
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