The Neighbourhood Partnership meeting, last Tuesday 24th January at the URC in Wigton Crescent, was well attended. We heard updates about Southmead and Henbury & Brentry’s Community Plans. Both Community Plans are struggling without group leaders for each chapter; Southmead has 9 chapters and Henbury & Brentry have 12.
We also heard that SCA (Southmead Community Association), SDT (Southmead Development Trust), and WISH (Working in Southmead for Health), have together put forward a bid to the Bristol Impact Fund that will allow these organisations to fund workers and projects in Southmead, and to pay for a Southmead Community Plan Coordinator. This is very important to us because we have a ten year plan and we want to ensure that every action in all 9 chapters is taken forwards.
The Ranch (Southmead Adventure Playground) is being put forward for a Community Asset transfer because it will no longer be funded through Bristol City Council. The Fourteen Fund Local Reference Group has approved funding for a feasibility study to see if it is a viable proposition for the community to run the Ranch.
The Fourteen Local Reference Group is made up of local residents and allocates the money Southmead was awarded after the 2012 Olympics; because we had a clear community plan, our community was awarded this legacy, all of which will be spent in Southmead. There is a meeting on 16th February about Community Asset Transfers which I hope to attend as a resident of Southmead.
Kurt James from Bristol City council was at the meeting and told us that Mayor Marvin Rees has decreed that he wants a cleaner Bristol by 2020. The focus will be on fly-tipping, dog mess and general littering. He mentioned that this campaign also included the bus services. I told him that as I do not drive, I spend a lot of time on buses and sometimes I feel like I am sitting in a huge rubbish bin. You are not allowed to bring food or drinks on to a bus, yet I sat next to a man once that was eating a bucket of KFC. Once again, the problem here is enforcement; the driver is very unlikely to get out of his cab and confront passengers.
Kurt mentioned litter picking and spraying around dogs mess with brightly coloured spray. This has all been done by groups of Southmead residents but has had no long term effect. We need to engage residents so that they will be proud of the area they live in and look after it themselves. I mentioned that, as Chair of the Southmead Festival, our committee were very frustrated about being told year after year by the council that there were no bins available for the Festival as they had been allocated elsewhere. I am pleased to say that a lady from Bristol waste company gave me her card after the meeting and promised recycling bins at this year’s Festival!
Sadly the whole future of the Neighbourhood Partnerships are in jeopardy because of the massive Council budget cuts, and nobody quite knows what is going to happen next. Personally I have met so many wonderful residents from areas across Bristol, and shared ideas and experiences with them, especially about our Southmead Community Plan. We have learnt from each other, whilst respecting our differences, because the main aim is surely to make a better community to live in and make sure that residents are listened to. From meeting two residents at a Neighbourhood Partnership event last July, myself and our Community Volunteer Coordinator, Serge Chapman, will be visiting Hengrove in the near future to tell them the story of how our community plan happened, and perhaps inspire them to have one of their own. Get in touch with Deana, and/or the Southmead Festival Committee here (why not join the Committee or volunteer for this year’s Festival?)