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Agenda item

THRIVING NEIGHBOURHOODS - UPDATES FROM WARD COUNCILLORS

 

To receive updates from ward councillors from Rotherham East, Rotherham West and Silverwood on the activities supporting Thriving Neighbourhoods across the Borough.

Minutes:

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 Rotherham East, Rotherham West and Silverwood as part of the Thriving Neighbourhoods Strategy.

 

The Strategy signalled a new way of working for the Council both for Members and for staff and covered every Ward in the borough delivered through Ward Plans developed with residents to address local issues and opportunities. Ward Members would be supported by the neighbourhood team and would work with officers and residents from a range of organisations to respond to residents.

 

Councillors Cooksey, Khan and Fenwick-Green, on behalf of the Rotherham East Ward, gave an update on their ward priorities.

 

Councillor Khan welcomed the change to the Thriving Neighbourhood initiative and the style of working.  This had previously been echoed around the Chamber by other Ward Members.  The Deputy Leader was, therefore, thanked for the neighbourhood initiative.

 

Ward Members had worked within the community to set up sessions with different groups and provide advice and support where required.  This had worked really well and had been achieved across the whole Ward.

 

Ward Members specifically wanted to thank Council staff and the local PCSOs and the Police who worked tirelessly to forge working relationships and to ensure the communities were at the heart thus achieving a more collaborative approach.

 

This reaching out approach secured improvements and had made a difference to vulnerable groups that may not have been achieved previously.  The Ward also had a Community Newsletter which was delivered to every household and community drop-in sessions where it was important to listen and advise.

 

Recognised achievements included the Eastwood Plan and working alongside a number of partners and partnerships, including various community centres, Mowbray Gardens Library, the Unity Centre, REMA and the Canal and River Trust where fantastic changes were made to open up fields thus making it more attractive for local wildlife.

 

Councillor Cooksey emphasised the need to listen to residents and consider their views when looking at any potential schemes for the devolved budget.  It was only after listening to the concerns of local people about the poor state of St. Ann’s underpass that the work of a local artist and illustrator was commissioned which improved the area.  The completed murals celebrated famous Rotherham landmarks and residents from the past.  This has also led to other commissions in other Wards.

 

This project also brought different groups together with help from the local youth club at My Place and the Red Cross as well as a Candidate Day in collaboration with Rotherham love where you live.

 

There had been some brilliant partnership working with partners and groups in Rotherham East Ward who have been so instrumental in providing assistance for other projects such as the mobile library and community hubs in East Dene and Herringthorpe which facilitated a number of diverse groups such as knit and natter, Rotherham Anglers, Polish/Anglo Polish; who consequently had written a book with fascinating stories of Polish immigrants after the Second World War which was also available to loan from the library.  The library had also been mentioned in an academic paper in Malaysia which was about adult and community learning in England.  One other project worthy of mention was the flourish programme, also held at the library highlighting mental health which was using creative methods such as writing and art to promote mental wellbeing.  This was crucial in helping people to live their lives to the full.

 

Clifton Learning Partnership, a registered charity, also ran a community cafe and grew some of their own produce at the back of the centre.  The charity worked hard with families in the area to try to address issues such as unemployment and poverty and Ward Members were pleased to be able to fund their adventure playground believing that play helped young children to develop.

 

In addition, over the summer the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust had done some amazing work with local young volunteers to build an assault course with monkey bars, a barbecue area and a bee-friendly garden. 

 

St. Stephen’s Neighbourhood Watch also received recognition from South Yorkshire Police and were presented with the Chief Inspector's Certificate for all their hard work dedication and commitment within the community.  They were also supported through the Community Leadership Fund.

 

The Unity Centre, the home to many different groups, recently supported a coming together event for the Yemeni Community, jointly funded by Rotherham East and Boston Castle colleagues.

 

It was also pointed out that Ward Members would continue to work with the TARA at Bakersfield and the newly formed Springwell Gardens TARA.

 

Councillor Fenwick-Green echoed many of the comments of her Ward colleagues, but reiterated it had not been easy working in the Ward.  Many of the issues identified by residents had led to positive improvements especially with newly installed cameras and lighting around Pocket Park, the removal of green debris, removal of dens that attracted anti-social behaviour and upskilling young people.

 

The National Trust had also been involved in the area with the installation of bat and bird boxes which the young people had enjoyed being involved in.  There had also been some discussion about placing cameras in the boxes to link up with the new season.

 

Ward Members had also been instrumental in the development of a local scheme/competition asking people to look after their environment, which was progressing well and hopefully the message would get through.

 

Every effort was being made to involve the community in a number of projects and for them to take ownership and involve young people.

 

Moving on to the Rotherham West Ward Councillor Keenan described it as being as busy and vibrant with diverse areas and many places of worship, including Liberty Church who were involved with the food bank, the Mosque assisting with the curry night for Shiloh and St. Paul’s who ran a community café.

 

She referred to various projects the Ward Councillors had been involved in, the recent picnic, the tremendous work undertaken by Shiloh, the homeless charity, and the involvement in their outdoor garden.  Local artists had also been supported with their murals across the borough and Ferham School’s homelessness project had seen scooters, helmets and high-vis vests being provided to enable some of the young people to become Loneliness Ambassadors.  The scooters enabled them to get around the school site much quicker and provide support to any child that appeared frightened or lonely.

 

Ward Members were also involved with skips and community clean-up days and this would remain ongoing.

 

Councillor Jarvis further commented on the newsletter that was circulated around the Ward and the walkabout days within the Masbrough triangle.  Issues had been raised about rodents, litter and fly tipping and where possible this had been progressed through Licensing and appropriate advice provided around concerns for benefit irregularities. 

 

Landlord behaviour had also improved considerably following legal action by the Authority and this would be revisited to ensure progress was maintained.  A recent door knocking day did uncover some continuing problems which have been forwarded to appropriate officers.

 

Ward Members continued to promote traffic awareness around local schools and a session was held at Meadow View School with PCSOs and speed cameras.  The young people thoroughly enjoyed being able to be involved.

 

Every effort was being made to improve the lack of good visibility resulting from selfish parking around school sites and an area of derelict land near to Meadow View had resulted in many improvements to anti-social parking.

 

Surgeries were continuing and additional sessions arranged to support residents who may not have attended.  There was a further street skip arranged for the 14th September, 2019 and volunteers were welcome.  Litter picking equipment had been purchased and some also supplied to local residents who were also proactive in cleaning their area.  Equipment had also been purchased for use at Blackburn Youth Centre.

 

There had also been regular meetings about anti-social behaviour and street nuisance, litter and graffiti where discussion ensued about the placing of Ward CCTV cameras in certain locations.

 

Many housing issues had also been resolved alongside the newly rolled waste programme.

 

Ward Members were encouraging people to walk round the Walker Mausoleum site, details of which were all in the newsletter.  A huge amount of work has gone into this tidying up this area and following extensive research information sources were to be located on the site and hopefully link in with other historical information points across the borough.  There were also plans to relocate some of the gravestones and suggestions with suggestions being received on where they should be placed.

 

Councillor Jones endorsed the comments of his Ward colleagues, but expressed his distress at the timeframes of changeover from one process to another placing Rotherham West at a major disadvantage when Area Assemblies were disbanded as this fell within an election period.  This meant communication with residents and local groups was very difficult so Ward Members had to consider alternative ways of engaging with communities.

 

Many of the projects brought forward were as a result of engagement from local schools and parents and this resulted in several largescale projects; some of them were still underway.  This included the temporary car park to release school transport and on-road parking issues at a special school.

 

Work had also taken place with South Yorkshire Community Payback to install a grading system for traffic whilst leaving a field appearance, to assist in a project brambles on a piece of Education land to reopen a very over grown cycle path.  This had saved the Council money and captured the imagination of local residents.

 

One of the Ward’s Youth Centres had also received support with gym and environmental equipment to keep young people engaged.

 

As indicated above a number community skip days had taken place around the Ward and placed in areas of concern. 

 

The Ward was celebrating its heritage with the use of new technology and a virtual reality app allowing the user to visit various sites.  A date stone had also been relocated following the demolition of the Psalters Lane Building to a more prominent site in a nearby school that everybody could now visit.

 

It had been frustrating that during management of the support for projects Ward Members were having to rely more on external support to deliver the projects.  However, the implementation of a new social media policy around neighbourhood working would allow for the promotion of events, which had been a failing in the past.

 

Ward Members had also been instrumental in setting up a co-ordinating group including task and finish groups and found this to be the best way forward for Rotherham West and the Ward would continue to take on this challenge.

 

Moving on to the Silverwood Ward Councillor Marles described his Ward and its coverage and diversity.  This brought new challenges, but the Ward priorities had focused on community safety and community engagement activities for children alongside environmental improvements.  Unfortunately, Councillor Russell was ill and had intended speaking on community engagement activity that she had been involved in.

 

Ward Members had helped fund a few improvements such as new curtains at Staple Green and a new bingo machine at the Apollo Centre and a Christmas party at Staple Green, all of which were well received. 

 

Wherever possible Ward Members engaged with schools and had funded Billy and Belinda bollards at Sandhill Primary School.  The young people themselves were able to design the bollards, which were realistic.

 

In addition, Ward Members had recently funded throw lines at Thrybergh Country Park as the old ones had big plastic rings that were not fit for purpose.  It was also the intention to replace the small dog litter bins with bigger mixed waste bins.

 

Solar lights were also soon to be installed in and around Ravenfield on some cut through footpaths to aid safety and last month, in conjunction with the Swinton Ward, a subsidised young people's activity group was held for two days at Kilnhurst Recreation Ground. This was a big success and the young people had a fantastic time.

 

Silverwood Ward Members wished to place on record its thanks to the Neighbourhood Working Teams and especially, Julie Colley, from Rawmarsh Customer Service Centre.

 

Councillor Napper, having held his surgeries at the Apollo Centre, had witnessed the concerns that residents had around the bus stop with vans and cars parked across and plans were in hand for the painting of a yellow box so that parking could be enforced.

 

Another concern for residents had been for some pavements which were not accessible to wheelchairs and mobility scooters so Ward Members contributed to them being lowered.

 

At the Apollo Centre support was given to the purchase of bingo and raffle tickets to enable all the proceeds to be given to charity.  The Centre was also encouraged to become a TARA and had voted in their Chairman.

 

At Sandhill Primary a competition was held and the young people were able to pick out their own designs and the winners presented with certificates at a presentation day and they were also invited into the Town Hall by the Mayor.

 

Complaints had also been received from residents at Elm Tree Farm about traffic speeds so go slow speed signs were painted on the road.

 

A defibrillator was eventually provided on the Resource Centre at Kilnhurst after some negotiation and training was also provided.

 

Further projects where the Ward had contributed included:-

 

·                Boxer fitness sessions for all ages.

·                Sight and sound craft class at Staple Green.

·                Bingo raffle tickets.

·                Christmas dinners.

·                Refurbishment at Staple Green.

·                Skip day at March Flats.

·                Community Grow Group at Ravenfield.

·                Community picnic at the Ravenfield Arms.

·                Friendship group along with a community group to contact all the isolated pensioners in the area.

·                Funded defibrillators and training sessions at the Apollo Centre and Staple Green.

·                Solar lights in Ravenfield opposite the Ravenfield Arms now complete.

·                Funding fora defibrillator at Hooton Roberts on the wall at the Old Post Office on Doncaster Road with training.

 

In his right to reply Councillor Watson welcomed the excellent neighbourhood working that was taking place in Wards.

 

Resolved:-  That the Ward updates be received and the contents noted.

 

Mover:-  Councillor Watson                       Seconder:-  Councillor Read

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