We enter 2014 with some trepidation as to what cuts will be implemented following the council budget setting meeting in February. We are very concerned about the numbers of staff who will be made redundant over the next three years as this may impact on what the Partnership is able to achieve locally.
With more being squeezed from less and the disappearance of some services altogether, it is even more important for you, as local residents, to raise your concerns if you feel that quality of life and general or specific wellbeing is threatened as a result of a smaller Council. Come to Public Forums (see the dates below), and/or speak to your councillors and your MP.If Neighbourhood Partnerships have a future, they will be even more important in getting action on very local issues. The story below gives some confidence in how the Partnership structure can get things done.
On October 14th 2013 at the Neighbourhood Partnership meeting at Redland Green School a local resident introduced a Public Statement, on behalf of families who use Westbury Park School, about a road safety issue which affects all of us who walk the streets. She was arguing for more safety features like flashing halos around the beleisha beacons by the zebra crossing on Coldharbour Rd outside St Albans Church. Parents have been concerned about the “near misses” they had witnessed due to cars speeding and not slowing down for children crossing, and so set up a petition on the Council website, which led to over 150 signatures supporting additional safety measures. The two ward councillors then met with Highways staff to look at options, but of course the issue was “where would the money come from?” given that the cheapest measure would cost thousands of pounds. However the Highways Officer present at the meeting suggested that perhaps there might be some money available through an underspend in various budgets which might just cover one of the cheaper options...By early November the money had been confirmed and the work commissioned.
I thought this was such a good example of how a reasonable local idea from the public could be turned into reality within a comparatively short time. I also suspect that the extra measures for this zebra crossing would never have arisen if officers alone undertook all Highways projects with no consultation with the public – here we can see that a member of the public can actually initiate something which can be picked up by the Council.
As another move to ensure that the Council is working for the Partnership rather than to an agenda not seen as relevant to local people’s needs, the Council has introduced the notion of “Neighbourhood Working”. To the public I think that this is rather confusingly named – what else would Council departments be doing?! However in reality this could be a radical way of ensuring “joined-up thinking” across different working areas of the Council: Highways, Communities (the Council department responsible for the Neighbourhood Partnerships), Planning, Licensing and Trading Standards are committed to working to those priorities agreed by Neighbourhood Partnerships. Appointed co-ordinators will ensure that officers from these departments work together to get these issues dealt with. We met in December to agree a recommended list of priorities to be discussed at the January 20th Partnership meeting. If you are unable to attend, I hope to put a report on the Bishopston Society website about what those priorities are in February. At this stage I can say that several priorities have resulted from issues raised at Public Forums over the past year.
Through the Wellbeing Fund the Neighbourhood Partnership has allocated over £30,000 during 2013 to a wide range of local groups including support for the arts, children’s activities, older people, improving our street scene and supporting Gloucester Road traders.
• BCR Neighbourhood Partnership Streetscene Group- £3,300, Range of measures to improve the streetscene and to support volunteers in the removal of graffiti/flyposting etc
• Bristol Interfaith Group -£1,450, interfaith, Inclusion and diversity programme for students and parents at Cotham and Redland Green secondary schools
• Bristol Kitchen Radio - £900, Local aural history project – development of 2 podcasts for part of a series about local artists, experts, business people, musicians
• Gloucester Road Traders Association - £10,000, strategic co-ordinator for 9 months to apply for Business Improvement District (BID) status and co-ordinate other activities to assist the Gloucester Road in remaining a sustainable retail area
• Henleaze, Westbury –on-Trym and Stoke Bishop Neighbourhood Partnership – Working Group for Older People - £200, contribution to the multi-activity event organised by the NP as part of the city-wide Celebrating Age Festival in July 2013
• Life Cycle UK - £500, to attract more local volunteers for the cycle refurbishment programme at Horfield Prison, and to raise profile of the organisation by becoming part of the North Bristol Arts Trail
• Redland Green Community Chorus - £1,250, range of items to support the existence of the choir, community events, its expansion and to increase community participation
• Avon and Somerset Police - £3,000, a contribution to install a further CCTV camera on Cotham Hill as part of a strategy of reducing anti-social behaviour in that area
• Ashley Down School Afterschool Club - £450, for equipment for a new afterschool club at the Brunel Fields school site
• Ashley Down School PTA - £300, to pay for professional editing of a road safety film , produced by the parents, to be shown to students who drive cars at Ashley Down College close to the site of the new school building
• Carers Support Centre- £1200 to set up a local scheme to match up volunteers prepared to sit with or take out people thus enabling their carer to have a break
• Friends of St Andrews Park– £863.77 for a netball hoop to be installed at top of play area
• Sefton Park School PTA - £6,000 as matched funding with what the PTA has already raised in order to buy play equipment for the outside space around the school
• Westbury Park Community Association - £300 to print copies of their Character Assessment and Design Statement report, written by local volunteers, so that the report can be used to evaluate planning applications and any proposed changes to the street scene instigated by the Council.
• BCR Community Engagement subgroup - £756, as a resource for the Neighbourhood Festival to be held in the first week of May, starting with the Redland Fair on the May Day bank Holiday.
The Neighbourhood Festival celebrates community activity within our Partnership area and enables local groups to promote what they do and recruit volunteers. One was organised last year in May culminating in the public superforum in the Gloucester Rd Methodist Church. More details about taking part in the 2014 festival will be available soon.
The deadlines for grant applications from the Wellbeing fund are May 2nd 2014 and September 5th 2014. Please contact Andrew McGrath, our co-coordinator ( or telephone 0117 9036898) for an application form, criteria and guidelines. Grants are given to enhance to wellbeing of the local community either in general or targeted towards specific social groups.
There is good news about an increase of green space within the Bishopston neighbourhood (funded through “Section 106 monies” which is a contribution from a developer). There will be provision for a children’s play area behind Muller House on Ashley Down Road, which will be a bonus for the new families who have moved into the new houses and flats. A Friends of the Park group is being set up.
Anti-social behaviour particularly around late night premises is a problem for residents who live behind the Gloucester Road. The Gloucester Road is designated a CIA - a Cumulative Impact Area, from the point of view of moderating the number of, and specific conditions attached to, licenses granted. The Bishopston Society has been active in monitoring the allocation of licenses and questioning the need for late night licenses beyond midnight. It has spoken to the police about how to be more effective in this work. It appears that the police will only act on reviewing the license if complaints made by local residents are specifically about a particular premise, but the more complaints over a period of time the better. So do complain – every complaint counts in the long run.
The annual Quality of Life Survey (2012) is now available on http://profiles.bristol.gov.uk. In summary it says that generally residents’ views of their quality of life in our Partnership area are higher than the average for the City. Issues where residents are less satisfied include:
• Bus services
• Traffic congestion and pollution
• Perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour
Bristol will become the Green Capital of Europe in 2015. The Council will be looking to local
communities to celebrate this with events and activities. If you are concerned to promote sustainability and believe that green issues have to be the way forward, you may wish to read more about the Award by contacting the Sustainable City Manager: alex.minshull@bristol/gov.uk .
Jenny Hoadley Bishopston Society Neighbourhood Partnership rep
Dates of the Public Forums, February 2014-June 2014
These are public meetings open to all local residents. Check the website for the venue: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/council-and-democracy/bishopston-cotham-and-redland-neighbourhood-partnership
or ring Andrew Mc Grath, Co-ordinator (0117 9036898)
Tuesday February 11th at 7pm Bishopston
Thursday February 13th at 7pm Cotham
Thursday February 20th at 7pm Redland
Saturday 10th May (provisional) – probably early afternoon1 Superforum for the whole Partnership area
1 Details will be on the Bishopston Society website when confirmed.
DATES FOR THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PARTNERSHIP MEETINGS 2013
These are public meetings open to all local residents,starting at 7pm. If possible have a look at the agenda and reports beforehand on the Council website (see above for the web address) and check the venue.
Monday January 20th 2014 at 7pm at Charnwood House, Cotham School Sixth Form Centre
Monday 24th March 2014 at 7pm