The outcome of the May general election might have a profound effect on local public services and therefore the work of the Partnerships. If the austerity agenda takes precedence, then local authority funding, as an “unprotected” area of government spending, will again be cut although it will be difficult to see what fat is left to trim.
The proposed closure of Redland Library, alongside the other five, was unlikely to have been considered but for the need to look for savings to meet the last round of cuts. Of course it is important to review what a library service should be in this digital age but the loss of this free public space for books and learning would leave a large library-free hole in this area of Bristol, as well as removing another outlet for public service information. There are local consultation sessions planned and the Neighbourhood Partnership will be reviewing the options at the open Neighbourhood Partnership meeting on June 22nd and deciding how it can best support what local people want.
The Partnership put its draft Neighbourhood Plan to the open meeting on March 22nd. It covers:
Green spaces, trees, streetscene etc
Traffic and transport
Sustainable travel options, safer pavement and roads etc
Crime and Community Safety
Anti-social behaviour problems, domestic and sexual violence etc
Housing and Planning
Promotion of good rented housing, students accommodation etc
Quality of life, Families, younger and older people
Health, art, culture and education
Employment, training and economic development
The local economy and food sustainability
Community buildings and facilities
Support community facilities/public space, investment in community activities
Equalities, community cohesion, active citizenship, and governance
The governance of the Neighbourhood Partnership, its constitution and how it engages with local residents and other organisations and the Council, and the delivery of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The draft Plan, which will always be a “plan in progress”, was largely accepted at the March Partnership meeting. It can be found in the papers for that meeting here - go to the right-hand column to click on ”Internal links – view Partnership meetings and agendas 2015” and then select the agenda for the March meeting. Copies for the public will be available later in the year, which I hope will be more user-friendly! Delivering the Neighbourhood Plan will have implications for the Wellbeing Budget we have hitherto mainly used to fund local voluntary organisations (see below for the latest round). As this is now the only money available to the Partnership for local projects, it may well need to dip into that pot of money (£31,000 for 2015/16, including some money rolled forward) for services or investment to improve the life of local people, especially as the Council has fewer resources to use itself. Some will be spent on keeping our streets attractive eg removing graffiti, litter-picking, trimming back overhanging vegetation, etc, replacing and planting more street trees, and underwriting the administrative costs of the Partnership’s public engagement programme.
However we will continue to support local voluntary initiatives albeit on a smaller scale: £7,500 from the Small Grants Fund for 2015/6 will be allocated at the June Partnership meeting. The deadline for applications is May 5th 2015. Copies of the notes of Guidance and the application form can be downloaded from the Partnership website, Email: or call 0117 9222329 if you need any further help.
From June 22nd we will continue to operate a system of Small Grants allocations, but in future the applicant will have to show specifically how the application will address a priority (ies) within the Neighbourhood Plan. We will be issuing a coherent set of criteria to assist applicants, which will come into use for the second round of allocation. The criteria will be slightly different in as far as money will only be spent on realising the priorities in the Neighbourhood Plan (see above). The deadline for the Small Grants Fund will be September 5th. After June 22nd the new criteria with the application form and guidelines will be published on the Partnership's own website.
There was an allocation of the rest of the Wellbeing Fund money (£10,065) for 2014/5 in March 2015 – but on the night we were surprised to hear that in fact a further £2,546 came to light due to previous underspends. Money was allocated to:
63rd Scout Gp, Happy Lane - £1204.50 – contribution to further preparation work for the rebuild of the Scout Hut
BCR NP Festival Committee - £995- publicity and other administration costs underpinning the local May Community Festival
Cycle Sunday - £2,308 –costs of a traffic free celebration day on the Downs to promote family cycling
Friends of Horfield Common - £3,000 - installing walking and cycling routes on Horfield Common
Gloucester Rd Central - £1,200- support for Mayfest event on May 2nd on the middle section of Gloucester Rd
Lifecycle UK - £600- to cover the training and supervision costs of the volunteer bike mechanics restoring second hand bikes at Horfield Prison
Redland Green Community Gp - £403- three new trees and a second wildflower meadow
Unique Voice (Late spring half term playscheme) - £850 – contribution to resources
Westbury Park CA - £250 – contribution to printing costs of a local heritage walk leaflet (jointly funded with Henleaze Westbury –upon-Trym and Stoke Bishop Partnership).
The remainder of the fund (just under £1,000) will be rolled over into 2015/16.
The Partnership was given £10,000 from Green Capital 15 in 2014 to allocate for local projects. The decisions were made at the January 2015 Partnership meeting and are as follows:
Friends of the Earth - £2,000 – to undertake a review of the need for house insulation within the Partnership area and make the results available on an individual property level to encourage installation of house insulation
Friends of Horfield Common - £703- resources for its Edible Garden
Friends of St Andrews Park -£1,519 – establishment of a wild flower meadow
Friends of Horfield Common - £1,973 – improvements to access to the wild life pond
Golden Hill Community Garden - £1,370 – additional raised beds
The University of Bristol Student Union was granted money for a joint local residents’-students' gardening venture, but the union turned down the money because of a change of policy.
Good news! The £99 tree replacement scheme will continue in 2015! This is a scheme where Partnership money and other funds subsidize the cost of a replacement street tree which means that local people need only pay £99 in total. Last year (see previous “News from the Partnership”) several trees were planted under this scheme in the Bishopston area, funded either by individual local residents or small groups. If you and your neighbours are interested in this scheme, then contact Clive Stevens (), one of the street Champions, for more details about money and site. Putting in a new tree (rather than a replacement) is much more expensive (around £3,000) because of the searches for utilities which have to be undertaken by the Council beforehand, digging the pit and maintenance. However Cllr Daniela Radice, one of the Assistant Mayors, is going to explore with Highways the practicality of reviving pits which have been recently tarmacked over, hoping this might reduce the costs of planting a new tree. I hope to have more news of this later in the year – this Partnership area has low tree coverage in comparison with many of the Partnerships across the City.
Three more local residents have joined the Streetscene Working Group: they work alongside our local Neighbourhood Officer and other Council Officers, to improve the attractiveness of our streets and co-ordinate the 50 or so Street Champions. The group continues make progress on confronting trade waste, bins on streets and fly tipping in different ways: approaching the letting agencies of houses of Multiple Occupation, providing ” First steps” letters and waste calendars in targeted areas. There is now a public liability insurance cover for volunteers which hopefully will encourage more people to join in. More can be achieved with more people offering a little of their time. For example there have been 5 volunteers’ action days since September to do litter-picking and vegetation cutback – see the pictures here - click on “How to get involved/be a streetscene volunteer”.
I know that eyes will glaze over when I say that the Partnership has spent some time over the last few months reviewing the constitution of the Partnership – but then a lot of people say that they do not understand how bodies like the Council works…so we decided that a Constitution which is publicly available will enable more transparency and means that at Public Forums and Partnership meetings you can a) ask awkward questions and b) get involved so the right decisions are made! The draft Constitution is part of the agenda papers for the Neighbourhood Partnership meeting on March 22nd (see above for where to find them on-line). We are developing more Working Groups for local residents to join eg promoting bio-diversity, active sustainable transport and highways - look on our website www.bcrnp.org.uk or contact our Co-ordinator for more details ().
I am hoping that you will see some improvements in 2015/16 for pedestrians on two of our more difficult road junctions: Cotham Brow/Redland Rd mini roundabout and Halsbury Rd/Cairns Road junction. In addition we will be expecting a design recommendation for traffic calming on the Sommerville Rd. These have all been sites raised by concerned local residents.
Bishopston Sociey rep to the Partnership
DATES OF THE PUBLIC FORUMS May and September 2015
Bishopston Tuesday 19th May 2015
Cotham Thursday 21st May
Redland Monday 18th May 2015
Joint Forum Saturday September 12th at 12 noon
DATES FOR THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PARTNERSHIP June and October 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 22nd June 2015
Monday 12th October 2015