In view of the reduced resources available to local government, Bristol City Council is requiring all the Neighbourhood Partnerships to devise their own 3-year Neighbourhood Plan by March 2015.
This will enable us to properly plan, monitor our own effectiveness and be more transparently accountable to our local community. We have been provided with the template and we will be working on it over the next couple of months. During 2015 the contents will be discussed with local residents either at the public forums or a special event. Do look out for notification of the consultation process so you can have your say too.
We continue to support local initiatives through the dispensation of our £30,000 Wellbeing Fund. Many of us will have benefited from at least one of these activities, but in addition they bring members of the community together as volunteers to make these happen. It is surely this network of voluntary activity which keeps this city vibrant and offers us a better urban experience. On June 23rd the Partnership allocated a total of £9,103 from the Wellbeing Fund to local projects. These were:
- Ardagh Toddlers Group – £400 for educational play equipment and non-slip floor covering
- Cotham Co-operative Academy - £1,000 towards the cost of students making a film about living in our area
- Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge - £338 towards the cost of printing the leaflets for the public about the events on the Downs in 2014
- Friends of Horfield Common- £1835 toward public events on Horfield Common this spring and summer and the installation of 6 bicycle stands
- Bishopston Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership Street Scene - £3,000 for 2014/5 for supporting volunteers in their efforts to remove graffiti and generally improve our streetscene and for any professional work needed to supplement voluntary action
- Unique Voice - £2,530 for 18 drop-in play sessions for mainly under 12’s in our three parks (Horfield Common, St. Andrews and Redland Green) over the summer school holidays.
At the October Partnership meeting we funded the following projects:
- Friends of Horfield Common - £3,000 for their tree planting plan on Horfield Common
- Redland and Cotham Amenities Society - £1,080 for the Cotham Hill in Bloom scheme 2015
- Picture Room Collective - £2,951 for the “Window Wonderland” Participatory Arts Trail in February 2015 in the Bishopston area
This still leaves a balance of about £7,000, to be allocated by April 2015, to which local organisations can apply for small grants. The deadline for applications is 30th January 2015, and the decisions will be taken at the March neighbourhood Partnership meeting. Please let any organisation you know of which is struggling for funds to look at the guideless and criteria on www.bcrnp.org.uk and click on “Funding Opportunities”.
The City Council Cabinet has decided that money devolved to the Partnerships each year, including the allocation of £30,000 for Wellbeing projects, will not be ringfenced - i.e. we will be able to decide locally how much of our total budget we can spend on, for example Highways projects, rather than be proscribed by a set amount. However the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Partnership has decided to maintain the ringfence for the Wellbeing budget in future years – so for 2015/16 there will still be £30,000 we can use to fund local projects and other priorities identified in our Neighbourhood Plan.
Each Partnership has been allocated £10,000 for financing local sustainable initiatives as part of the Bristol Green Capital year. A further £2,000 can be transferred from the Wellbeing budget if good applications amount to more than £10,000. A small group of us are scrutinising the applications and the successful ones will be approved at the January Neighbourhood Partnership meeting.
I find it ironical that, in the year leading up to Green Capital 15, Bristol City Council has decided to scrap its budget for street tree replacement - it will be up local communities do something if they so wish. Where central government is putting pressure on local councils to make cuts, inevitably things like tree planting (planning for the future) drops off the list of priorities when faced by spending on, say, care services where there is a demand NOW. Bristol TreeForum wrote to the Neighbourhood Partnership in October asking whether it wishes to consider replanting a high priority in the future – to which the answer was “yes!”
So in 2015/16 some money from the Wellbeing budget may well go towards more trees, which has been the pattern in the past; in addition, money available from the Green Capital 15 has also been put into financing a local initiative in Cotham. During this year our Partnership Tree team (all volunteers) identified 37 sites for replacement trees, many recommended by local residents. The Partnership was able to identify some money which could part-sponsor tree planting where local individuals or community groups contributed £99 per replacement tree. So, many of these sites will have replacement trees over the next few months, including five which were sponsored by funds raised by the Bishopston Garden Club’s Open Gardens event in June. And this may well be the pattern for tree replacement in the future – we will have to dig into our own pockets, or hold fundraising events, if we want to keep our area green.
This of course does not answer the issue of new tree sites – there are many streets in our area which have no trees. The cost of planting new trees is much higher than replacement ones, because of the required Council utility searches, consultation, and the pit excavation (old pits are more cheaply opened up). However the question is, do you want more street trees – and if so, where? The Bishopston Society would be interested in hearing your views which we can pass onto our local tree champions (Bev Knott is the Bishopston Champion), and if you wanted to get a tree planted, we can put you in touch with the Partnership Tree Team.
If you want more detail of the work of the Partnership, the minutes of the meetings are on the Council website: NP
and click on “Internal links” for minutes and other details.
For what is going on locally in the Partnership and events you can join in, then go to our own website: www.bcrnp.org.uk as well as checking The Bishopston Society website: www.bishopstonsociety.org.uk
Jenny Hoadley - The Bishopston Society rep to the BCR Partnership
DATES OF THE PUBLIC FORUMS January - March 2015
These are public meetings open to all local residents. Check the website for the venue: www.bcrnp.org.uk
OR NP OR ring Andrew Mcgrath, Co-ordinator (0117 9036898)
Bishopston Thursday February 12th
Cotham Monday February 16th
Redland Tuesday February 17th
DATES FOR THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PARTNERSHIP
MEETINGS January – March 2015
These are public meetings open to all local residents 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 26th 2015 (Redland Green School)
Monday March 23rd 2015