To receive updates from ward councillors from Wingfield, Anston & Woodsetts, and Boston Castle on the activities supporting Thriving Neighbourhoods across the Borough
Further to Minute No. 55 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 19th November, 2018, consideration was given to the annual Ward Updates for Wingfield, Anston and Woodsetts and Boston Castle as part of the Thriving Neighbourhoods Strategy.
Councillor Williams, on behalf of the Wingfield Ward, gave an update on their annual report and outlined how the three newly elected Ward Members had not inherited any kind of infrastructure so had literally started their Ward plan with a blank canvas.
Ward Members had worked together on a cross-party basis on a Ward based focus that was at the heart of the new model of neighbourhood working. Regular public meetings had been held in Wingfield at different locations across the Ward on a quarterly basis and local residents and community groups were invited to come and talk about local issues.
It was those public meetings that informed the priorities for the Ward along with the other meetings separately with officers from a range of different services at the Council, including partners like the Police. Members would then meet together and report back on the issues that were raised in public meetings. Any problems encountered were shared and by working together solutions could be provided.
Some really good pieces of work and projects have progressed, such as the one at St. John's Green, which initially came about because of the need to redesign the area due to longstanding problems of anti-social behaviour. This was done in consultation with local residents and in particular the local TARA with a commitment from Ward budgets to help refurbish an existing community facility.
The strength and role of Ward Councillors enabled them to draw in services to target local issues and priorities and to use those budgets available.
This new model of Neighbourhood Working did work and worked well in Wingfield even though it was the fourth most deprived Ward in the Borough and the cross-party collaboration worked to the benefit of its residents.
Councillor R. Elliott highlighted his own concerns and how Area Assemblies were found to be an unwieldy set up and undemocratic way of dealing with the Ward problems.
Neighbourhood Working was much better, allowed the Ward to move forward and enabled Councillors to work together regardless of political standing, attend meetings and share information either by in person, e-mail or text. All Councillors attended meetings whenever they could and were embracing the Neighbourhood Working model which worked and was here to stay.
Councillor Allen shared some facts and figures about Wingfield:-
· £10,000 of devolved budget had been allocated up to 2020 against ward priorities.
· Nine drinking establishments and to add to that a community cafe by bringing back to life an empty council asset
· Eight Community Achievement Awards had been awarded at the annual awards ceremony in December recognising the community and officers and partners.
· Seven day “What's On” Wingfield leaflet and display in the library.
· Six weekly meetings of Wingfield Wednesday on a Thursday and that brings together officers who worked in the Ward to formulate approaches to any issues.
· Five more copies of the Ward electronic newsletter to be created and distributed.
· Four quarterly network meetings per year bringing together voluntary groups.
· Three new Councillors.
· Two weekly catch ups with Neighbourhood staff and other officers to progress chase.
· One single focus on the people and places of Wingfield.
Moving on to Anston and Woodsetts, Councillor Ireland reported on the Ward priorities which included community safety tenant engagement, health and wellbeing initiatives and educational projects for families, children and young people.
With regard to the Ward budget local community groups were encouraged to bid for funds that fit with the local priorities.
In addition, local sporting clubs were also supported such as the bowling club, local cricket club, the scouts and brownies.
A number of environment events were held in local woods with local sculptures erected within a forest school, which was well received by local schools involving woodland activities which were successful. Thanks were given to the Neighbourhood Teams.
Councillor Jepson described the two events which were both very successful with local schools and due to the rural spread of the villages it was important to ensure that communities had the opportunity to bid for projects.
The Ward defibrillators project would be further rolled out in conjunction with the Parish Council following the successful installation of the one in North Anston.
Ward Councillors would continue to work in a community-based approach working with both Parish Councils. The celebration event in May of last year was well attended by local residents and hopefully the benches that have been made would soon be spread around the village.
Finally, anti-social behaviour on Woodland Drive were still being addressed and monthly meetings were taking place.
Councillor Wilson reported on the community clean-up days which have been well received. One priority was to get involved with local groups and to campaign against fracking and support as much as possible.
Councillor Alam, on behalf of Boston Castle Ward, confirmed the Councillors were putting communities at the heart of everything. In the last twelve months Members had been talking to residents across the different districts identifying four key priorities. The Ward was fortunate to have some great community groups and individuals who have played their part in making things happen.
Priority One - Strengthen belonging and communities feeling safer in Boston Castle Ward – involved Ward Councillors initiating and leading a Tasking Group involving residents, Police, Community Safety and Neighbourhoods Service in response to community concerns regarding the high number of burglaries. Proposals were also presented to a public meeting at the Town Hall attended by more than 120 residents. As a result, working with the Sitwell Ward, budgets funded several measures including CCTV on entrance points to estate and barriers installed on a number of alleyways throughout the estate. Duke of Norfolk residents were given a special award by the Police Crime Commissioner for the pro-active work they did including establishing a WhatsApp group with over 150 residents.
There were also a number of community concerns regarding housing issues and a meeting with RMBC and partners where it was agreed that a letter be sent to every household in area acknowledging concerns, informing residents of actions being taken to address those concerns and emphasising importance of using recognised channels of reporting.
Councillor McNeely, having been a Councillor for fourteen years, had seen various initiatives along the way, but pointed out Rotherham South Area Assembly had also played an active role and had good attendance at its meetings.
Boston Castle was a diverse Ward because it incorporated the Town Centre, but voluntary and local communities were all involved in supporting the Boston Castle Ward priorities.
A Dragons Den Event saw groups being invited to bid into the Ward budget and pitch to the public. Residents and Councillors agreed to fund six projects including Rotherham African Drummers and Canklow Rainbow Kids Club. The Boston Castle Ward Budget had also funded other projects including Casting Innovations and Clifton Park Community Gym.
Ward Members were keen to thank the neighbourhood staff, but were sad to lose Helen Thorpe who had secured other employment.
Councillor Yasseen lived in the Ward and saw first-hand the transition about how the Neighbourhood model was evolving.
Each Ward defined its own model and a key feature for Boston Castle had been the increased collaboration with communities, which had helped to improve, celebrate and also make a real positive difference.
The four priorities had real synergy and added value to the area. It was not always about negative issues, but about enthusing people from a positive agenda. There had been a number of campaigns and Ward Councillors supported and provided encouragement.
There had been specific issues with the Chapel, which was one of the oldest within Rotherham and going through massive change that would begin to be seen in the next few years.
Ward Councillors were bringing together communities and celebrating community achievements. An annual programme of activities was held that encouraged increased joint working between communities and within the Ward. The annual programme activities ended with a night of celebration called Community Angels held in the Town Hall. This was a way of saying thank you to Boston Castle residents for their contribution, commitment, help and working together to make a difference. Councillor McNeely was also recognised and nominated by residents.
Councillor Watson wished to place on record his personal thanks to Councillor Yasseen who commenced this work.
Resolved:- That the Ward updates be received and the contents noted.
Mover:- Councillor Watson Seconder:- Councillor Read