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© 2024 Cheshire West and Chester Council

© 2024 Cheshire West and Chester Council

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I am delighted to publish our first newsletter and hope it will be the start of further dialogue with you on how the OCP is evolving across our five working groups. Since its first publication in 2012 and a subsequent update in 2022, the One City Plan has evolved to become our blueprint for collaboration and civic participation in Chester.

In 2015, the council consulted on a proposal to licence buskers in Chester city centre. The proposal would have seen a self-appointed board to assess the quality of street performers and then determine who should be allowed to play. Unhappy with the idea of restricting artistic expression, thousands of local people opposed the plan at the consultation stage. So instead, the council embarked on a series of meetings with businesses, buskers and performance artists to negotiate a new code for street performance in the city. Years later this approach has been recognised as best practice for other cities also looking to balance thriving and engaging performance art with commercial activity and residential living in their city centres.

The Chester code has been used as a foundation for other codes around the country and it is testament to the principle that if you try something new, you can learn from your mistakes and work together to find a solution. Like with the One City Plan, at the heart of developing the new busking code was compromise, participation, negotiation and collaboration. It is an approach that recognises that not everyone has to be right or wrong, and instead focuses on people's talents and experiences, harnessing the belief that we can achieve more together than by working alone.

The One City Plan captures in 45 broad actions the voices of many Chester residents and businesses. Whilst it is a plan for economic growth, this is balanced with actions which promote fairness, quality jobs, education opportunities, health, well-being, culture, environmental and heritage protection alongside civic pride.

Every day, by accident and by design, citizens and organisations in our city work towards delivering these actions and when I hear people say that nothing ever changes, or nothing ever happens, I am reminded of the story of the butterfly. The butterfly only lives for a few days and standing on the leaf of a tree, which lives for hundreds of years, the butterfly is asked if he believes the object on which he is standing is alive. The butterfly says "No, I have been here all my life, and this tree hasn't done a thing."


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