Thursday, 23 June 2011

Your community your cash!

People have been asking me what it means in practice when Labour in Reading talks about giving residents more say and being a council that works with people not just for people.

Well below is a press release that the council has just put out.  It's an example of the kind of thing we plan to do more of.  This year it's £30K in two pilot areas.  Next year if it works it could be the entire decent neighbourhoods fund - £400,000.   This is about Labour and Co-operative values, people working together to do more than they could by themselves.

"Residents in Whitley Wood and Coley have the chance to make a big difference in their neighbourhoods by making a bid to Reading Borough Council for new community facilities.  The Council has launched a pilot scheme 'Your Community, Your Cash' under its Decent Neighbourhoods initiative. 

Residents in these areas are being given the opportunity to put forward their ideas on what can be done to improve their neighbourhoods, whether raising community spirit, improving the appearance of the area where they live or reducing anti-social behaviour.  Over the next few weeks, people living in Whitley Wood and Coley will be asked to put their thinking caps on and come up with ideas. The best ideas will then be presented by the bidders at events taking place within each community. Residents will be able to then vote for the project they think will have the most positive impact in their neighbourhood.

The Council will invest £15,000 into each neighbourhood, which will come from the housing department's Decent Neighbourhood Fund, which goes into improving estates and neighbourhoods all over Reading.  Voting for the best community project will take place on Sunday, July 31st at the Coley Park Street Party and in Whitley on Saturday, August 20th, at the Whitley Wood Community Centre Event.  The chance to decide how the funding is spent in Whitley Wood and Coley are a pilot. If successful, as part of the administration's plans to give residents a chance and a real say in how the council is run, the scheme will be introduced in other parts of Reading.

Rachel Eden, Lead Councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods, said: 'I believe that local people know what is best for their own area and we all know a small change can make a big difference to a neighbourhood. Tenants' rent pays for this programme so it's time we started giving local residents the chance to make the decisions as a community. I look forward to seeing what they are."

Residents in Whitley Wood who would like to discuss their ideas and get advice on how to put a bid together, can contact Julie Burnett, the Council's neighbourhood officer, on (0118) 937 2685. Julie will be also be at Whitley Wood Community Centre coffee morning between 11am-midday on Tuesday, June 28th and Tuesday, July 12th.  Coley residents can go along to the Council's neighbourhood office at 205 Wensley Road, on Wednesday, June 29th, 5pm-7pm. Call Joe on (0118) 937 2298.

Examples of projects provided thanks to Decent Neighbourhoods Funding, include landscaping – planting of trees, bulbs – and also seating at several public open spaces including Foxhays Road and Wensley Road, installing an older people's gym area in Southcote and funding for a Portakabin extension at South Whitley Youth and Community Centre.  Groups that have been working with Reading Borough Council on Decent Neighbourhoods Projects include; Coley Park Towers Residents' & Tenants' Association and Coley Park Community Association."