Church leaders seek to work with Milliband on new communities

Church leaders from across England have written to DavidMilliband MP, Minister of Communities and Local Government,inviting him to work with them in developing new communities. TheGroup for New Communities, part of Churches Together in England(CTE), was formed to share good practice and offer support to thoseworking in areas of new housing.

Anthea Cox, Chair of the Group for New Communities and MethodistCoordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, said"The Group offers a wide range of experience from many differentdenominations. Churches offer more than just Sunday services, andin new communities can be vital in offering education, leisure,social services and community development. We have a proven trackrecord across decades of helping turn new housing developments intothriving communities, and we want to work with the Government as itseeks to tackle many of the same problems."

For example, in Ashford in Kent local churches are involved in theplanning for the Discovery Centre, which will house a range ofservices for local residents in a town that is expected to growrapidly over the next 20 years. The Methodist Church and the Churchof England have teamed up to work towards a new primary school forthe town. Also in the town, the Baptist Church has helped with thecreation of the Willow Centre, a Sure Start project that hasbenefited from the national nurseries initiative.

The full text of the letter:

David Milliband MP Minister of Communities and Local GovernmentOffice of the Deputy Prime Minister 26 Whitehall London SW1A2WH

Dear Mr Milliband

I am writing to you on behalf of the Churches Together in EnglandWorking Group for new Communities to express our congratulations atyour new role and to offer our support in working together to buildsustainable new communities.

The Group for New Communities brings together the voice and theexperience of the Christian Churches to meet the challenge ofdeveloping new communities and we would hope for a meeting withyourself in order to introduce you to this work and discuss how itmight be developed?

The Group for New Communities has come together over the pasteighteen months under the oversight of Churches Together in Englandin order to share good practice and offer support to those whorecognise both the challenges and opportunities that areas ofsignificant new housing would bring. Representing a wide range ofdenominations (listed at the end of this letter), the Group bringstogether a breadth of expertise, linking together those who operatelocally, regionally and nationally. Churches are, of course,involved in much wider aspects of building new communities thanjust developing new churches, including the provision of education,leisure, social services and community development. The churchesare investing significantly in this area, not least in terms ofpersonnel. Churches have a proven track record in communitybuilding and this is a tremendous asset to those areas where thechurches have become fully engaged.

The Group for New Communities believes that we have specificexpertise to bring to the promotion for the social cohesion agenda.We would also like to discuss where the Sustainable Communitiesprogramme now sits within the Government's priorities and whatcontribution is expected of the faith communities. The Group forNew Communities is able to offer a direct link into local projectsin growth areas.

We hope that you will be able to explore this area of work with us,and we look forward to hearing from you.