Brokering between the citizens and the city

POC Neighbourhood Manager, Ghent- BE

Brokering between the citizens and the city

“Citizens starting a community garden are expected to match administrative requirements and complete all paperwork related to spaces receiving public, this is too much on their shoulders”comments Wendy De Man, a member of Ghent’s city administration. Wendy is one of the “Neighbourhood Managers” in charge of establishing links between citizens and the city’s administration.

15 Neighbourhood Managers 

The Policy Participation unit has an official mediation mandate on both ends, liaising with citizens and mediating with elected representatives and other departments of the public administration. Particularly, the unit works with 15 Neighbourhood Managers, active in 25 different neighbourhoods and operating mediation on the field on a daily basis. They represent an important connection as a network of contacts between the city council, the departments, other governments and partners on the field. Neighbourhood Managers in particular and city administration in general, work as brokers between projects in search for spaces and opportunities for temporary use. 

The Neighbourhood Managers and the Policy Participation unit enable policymakers to adopt a bottom-up approach in planning and decision-making processes. In return, permanent contact with projects of temporary use allows civil servants to learn from their practices and adapt progressively to their conditions and needs. Their action is key: their neutral mediation allows to navigate through grey zones, understanding both the citizens’ initiatives and municipal requirements, all in order to come up with the best compromise.

REFILL the city 

REFILL the city is an URBACT Action Planning network of partnering cities including Amersfoort, Athens, Bremen, Cluj, Ghent (lead partner), Helsinki, Nantes, Ostrava, Poznan and Riga. For 3 years, between 2015 and 2018, its goal has been to unite experimented cities with temporary uses and developed tools, such as legislation, funds, financial tools, agencies, networks, digital platforms and so on.

  • Project holders  : city of Ghent
  • Stakeholders : Ce cas provient du réseau REFILLcofinancé par l’Union européenne dans le cadre du programme URBACT / This case comes from the REFILLnetwork co-financed by the European Union through the URBACT programme
  • Photo credits : city of Ghent, POC Neighbourhood Manager