Reflections from Gus Hoyt and Rob Telford, Ashley ward’s Green councillors
As austerity digs deeper so we have seen an increase in our casework for more serious and personal issues of local residents. These have focused on housing issues, mostly an inability to pay when in the private sector as rents are increasing but pay and benefits are not. We have had a number of residents needing to be rehoused and have been working closely with housing services to ensure people have safe and secure homes.
The Montpelier Residents Parking Scheme went live in early July and despite a few who will never accept it most are now contacting us and thanking us for keeping strong as the results are now infinitely safer and more enjoyable streets. The benefits are that there are no vehicles parked dangerously over corners and it’s become easier to park near your house. Local residents who have previously given us grief over the past two years have confided in us that it’s great! We have been incredibly grateful that residents have come forward to point out where the scheme isn’t quite working. This includes lengthening double yellow lines in some places, shortening them in others, and working with the RPS team to figure out whether these can be caught in the “snagging” process, or whether they will need to wait for the six-monthly review.
There are two major developments in the ward at the moment, and they require close monitoring and involvement with local residents and the community (as well as with the developers where possible). The main one is still the Carriageworks/Westmoreland House site in Stokes Croft and the second is the Brooks Dye site in St Werbs.
The issue of youth homelessness is on the increase and Gus is in the process of organising a cross-agency conference on this issue. He has visited the old probabtion centre which has been squatted and houses travellers too. There have been violent attacks there and the issue is pretty serious. Rob has been in dialogue with Docklands/Full Circle/ACE Project about youth services in St Pauls and how to get the most out of what is being offered across the board.
There are a few local roads schemes that Gus is working on with residents. The plan is to draw up proposals to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists – and then for cars and buses too. This will be a long process and the Assistant Mayor has reiterated that there’s no money. The Brooks Dye development may have a part to play in funding an important and much-needed review of traffic flows in the St Werburghs area.
We have both been encouraged by the new Sustrans project “Imagine St Pauls”. There is a regular “tea stop” outside the Learning Centre to hear how this project is progressing. At the moment, Sustrans’ Community Street Design Officer Georgie Burr is collecting residents’ views on what the project will entail and how St Pauls’ streets can be improved for residents. Rob and Gus have also been working with Incredible Edible, Knightstone Housing and BCC housing to reinvigorate some community allotments in St Pauls.
Rob recently talked to Mufti Games about their summer projects as part of our year as European Green Capital. They are creating games that show the problems with fly-tipping and rubbish on the streets, all developed in a creative way so kids can learn how these things affect everyone in the community. The communal bins in St Pauls are a continued problem but we see signs of improvment. With the council’s waste services very shortly to be taken “in-house”, we hope that this additional control will allow a much quicker response time for dealing with these issues.
Tagging is still public enemy number one. On the city level, there have been some prosecutions but we are trying to explore more positive and inclusive community options. This is likely to be driven by an open space meeting we’ll host this summer/autumn.
The ongoing caravan issue has returned in St Werburghs with the summer months. Campervans/motorhomes are legally allowed to park anywhere, but there is legislation to remove caravans from the highway if they are causing a permanent obstruction or have been abandoned. It is always a balance between being a welcoming and inclusive community and ensuring that those who live in caravans on the street do their utmost to respect local residents’ wishes.
Albany Green rocks! We are looking into funding to improve it further to give activities for parents when supervising children. The overwhelming ask is for outdoor gym equipment. This is expensive but we are exploring possible options, including using the Mayor’s Parks and Play Fund.
There has also been a reinvigorated action group form around Rosa Parks Lane. We are looking into sorting a regular maintenance regime with the Neighbourhoods management team so that residents can focus on improving the other features of the space, such as improved planting and visible signs that this is a loved and cared-for lane.
Both Gus and Rob have been taking the first soundings of what local businesses, traders and residents want from a restarted Stokes Croft Traders group. We are hoping to re-launch the group fully in the autumn after this initial feed-in is completed and we have got a good steer from everyone.
A number of other community groups go from strength to strength; the Montpelier Bean Feast team are looking for volunteers for their now annual event in September and the Portland & Brunswick Squares Association have started a regular Tuesday (1 to 2pm) gardening slot in Portland Square. There continues to be a multi-agency action group on the Brunswick Square Cemetery and dealing with some of the anti-social behaviour present there.
As always, if you have any ideas or want to ask for more specifics about anything here, please do contact us!