The St George Neighbourhood Partnership aims to improve the quality of life for residents in the neighbourhood so that satisfaction levels increase, and also increase civic pride, community cohesion and community involvement by:
• Developing local solutions to local problems wherever possible
• Encouraging public, private and community and voluntary organisations to work together to deliver improvements to residents’ quality of life.
• Tackling deprivation and discrimination in the neighbourhood, and promoting equality of opportunity for all those living or working there.
• Considering proposed decisions of the Neighbourhood Committee and influencing such so as to use resources to best meet the needs of the neighbourhood.
• Receiving reports from service delivery bodies and influencing service priorities within the neighbourhood in accordance with identified needs and priorities
• Actively engaging with local people across the neighbourhood, seeking their views and active participation in improving their quality of life. This includes seeking the views and participation of residents that are hard to reach.
• Co-ordinating community engagement, approving an annual multiagency community engagement plan for the Neighbourhood,
accompanied by a local communication strategy to raise awareness of engagement opportunities as widely as possible, in accordance with the Bristol Community Engagement framework.
• Considering regularly the results of community engagement activities, ensuring that wherever possible action is taken in response to the issues raised, referring such issues to the Thriving Neighbourhoods Board as appropriate
• Supporting and promoting locally the aims of the Bristol Partnership as set out in the Bristol 20:20 Plan.
In November 2007 a public meeting was held at Summerhill Methodist Church, a central location within the wards of St George East and West to establish the St George Neighbourhood Partnership. A briefing note was circulated about what were then Bristol’s new Neighbourhood Partnerships.
A map of all 14 of Bristol’s Neighbourhood Partnerships can be seen on www.bristolpartnership.org/neighbourhood-partnerships
At that first meeting 3 community groups, Friends of Troopers Hill, Meadow Vale Community Association and St George Community Association were asked to introduce themselves, their work and their experience of working with Bristol City Council. There were opportunities for networking, a workshop setting and scoring the importance of different priorities for St George. People volunteered to help set up the Partnership.
Unsurprising the priorities raised included extending the capacity of the Meadow Vale Community Centre in the Speedwell area, providing activities for young people, tackling litter and creating a newsletter for St George.
During 2008 the Partnership set their terms of reference, established contacts with the police under the Police and Community Together (PACT) scheme and identified that Section 106 money (contributions by developers to Bristol City Council when building large development) could be a source of funds for improving St George. The first newsletter was produced, thanks mainly to the hard work of Abdul Razak Dahir, the council officer from the Neighbourhoods team, a spreadsheet started to be built of all the groups in the area and the facilities they offered and at public meetings people were encouraged to identify their priorities for St George and to vote on which were the top 3 most important to address under the categories of Crime and Safety, Environment, Leisure and Transport.
These public meetings where people are encouraged to bring along their priorities for the local area for action by council officers and the police continue today as Neighbourhood Forums and are held 4 times a year.
The main aim of the group during this time was to “Encourage and promote the wellbeing and quality of life in the St George area by working and liaising with key agencies”. Extract from the original terms of reference.
A number of supportive relationships grew across participating groups. Grenville Johnson, chair of Kensington Rd Residents Association, would closely with Ann Radnedge, chair of Meadow Vale Community Association on a People’s Lottery funding bid to improve the facilities at Meadow Vale Community Centre. While this bid did not succeed work was done that could be used in future bids.
In 2008 £10,000 per ward was allocated to the St George Neighbourhood Partnership, a total of £20,000. In January 2009 the method of applying for funding for local projects using that money was agreed and a number of projects agreed to improve the area ranging from the Speedwell Pride Project involving local people in projects to planting street trees in Kensington Rd. The majority of the funding was carried over to the next financial year. As is the case now, the decision on spending is made by local councillors, the rest of the Partnership can only give their opinion.
In 2009 a major change was made to the way Neighbourhood Partnerships worked. This was formalised at the February meeting of the St George Neighbourhood Partnership. A new terms of reference was adopted, a city-wide one standardised for all 14 neighbourhood partnerships. This specified the number of Forums to be held each year and the number of Partnership meetings and defined the devolved powers of the Partnership which included setting priorities on some aspects of Highways expenditure within St George. Over time this has extended and by 2012 St George councillors (the Neighbourhood Committee) had the following powers devolved to them for decision:
a) Highway maintenance carriageway £20,000
b) Highways maintenance footways £42,000
c) Minor Traffic works budget – £17,147
d) Wellbeing budget – £20,000
e) Clean and Green budget – £1,500 and potential to bid into a £19,000 citywide pot
f) Section 106 budgets – Parks approximately £210,888.69
g) Section 106 budget – Traffic & Transport £ £153,077.20
h) Influence on the council’s waste and street cleaning contract.
i) Influence on the council’s grounds maintenance service
j) Influence on the work of Community Safety Officers. See Community Safety Delivery Agreement.
k) Influence on the work of Neighbourhood Development Officers. See Community Engagement Plan
l) Area Green Space Plan Prioritisation
m) Decision about whether parks land is surplus or whether it should be retained for recreation
A single meeting a quarter was not sufficient to address all the issues that needed decisions in sufficient depth. This led to the creation of sub-groups to carry out in-depth studies and to report back with their recommendations to the Neighbourhood Partnership. More can be read about Subgroups on www.stgeorgenp.org.uk/subgroups