Penhill Forum Annual Report 2009/2010
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Clivey Youth Project* Community Policeman* Police Community Support Officer* Crime Prevention Officer* Fair Share Consultant* Fair Share Worker* Swindon Academy, Les Gowing House* Lillian Locke Gardens, Local Councillors* Michael Wills MP* North Swindon Family Centre* Penhill Arts and Crafts Club* Penhill Lunch Club* Penhill Scouts and Cubs* Penhill Community Association Penhill Royal British Legion, Penhill Surgery, Penhill Library* Penhill Nursery School* Penhill Players* Penhill Townswomen's Guild Penhill Youth Group* Penhill Athletic Football Club* Penhill Primary School/ Academy* Penhill Orchard Group* Pinehurst Initiative Forum* SBC Community Safety Dept.* SBC Housing Dept.* SBC Play Development Workers. * Seven Fields Primary School* Seven Fields Conservation Group* St. Peters Church* St. Peters Church Guides and Brownies, St. Lukes School* Swindon Get Active Project* TWIST Adventure Playground Project* Penhill United Reform Church* United Reform Church Guides & Brownies* Sure Start Penhill and Pinehurst* Community Learning in Penhill* Westlea Housing Association* Wiltshire and Swindon Community Foundation* Neighbourhood Wardens.
Penhill Forum Annual Report
April 2009 ¨C March 2010
Chair¡¯s Report: This year we
welcome newcomers to the Westlea Housing at Braydon Court and welcome back those who wished to return we wish them all the best in their new homes. Now that Westlea have substantial holdings in Penhill, we hope to see their reps at some of our meetings. We were very pleased to hear that Kevan Colanis for Penhill Voice (105.5fm) and Alison Wheeler of the Penhill Community Association received get Pride of Swindon Awards. We welcome Jerome Chatman as our SBC Community Engagement Worker and Ian Bickerton as our Cluster Lead for Connecting People Connecting Places. We would like to acknowledge the work of Mike and Diane Hawker of the Penhill Lunch Club upon their recent resignation and hope that the new committee can keep this service going for the senior citizens of Penhill.
Climate Change Action/Environmental Action. It has been over a year now, with so few workers to manage and promote our open spaces. We protested at the closure of the Groundwell Park and Ride. Many items below cover our concerns for our environment.
Academy: The Forum Steering group continues to keep a watchful eye, from a distance, on management of the Academy. Invitations are issued to the Academy to our meetings but we have yet to welcome anyone to any of our meetings, although we are aware that they attend the Pinehurst Initiative Forum. Through various meetings and letter-writing etc., we have been supporting the group trying to get a better bus service to the Academy. We have purchased reflective bag charms for the children from Penhill with the surplus from the fund for our Kids Conference. These have yet to be handed out.
Backlands: We continued to keep take an interest in the Backlands issue. We have tried to encourage the play rangers to make use of them. We also look for other opportunities i.e. the increase in requests for allotment land.
Allotments: Swindon has a long waiting list for allotments and there are empty spaces on Penhill. At least one of the Allotment sites is sporting brand new security fencing and is gated. We have contacted the relevant officer with a view to finding room for more allotments on Penhill.
Grafton Road backland development: This development is now due to start in the next few weeks. Westlea Homes will be building nine bungalows; (one three bed disabled adapted bungalow, one 2 bed disabled adapted. 7 general need).
SBC Housing Fayres: We have commented on where and when these could be asked to best advantage of residents. They are aimed mostly at tenants. They have promised to hold one centrally this summer.
Housing Works Compound Winterslow Road: These words were included in last year Annual Report: "Despite complaints it took several more months to get it moved and at present the ground has still not been completely tidied or re seeded". An attempt has been made to make this LOOK like it has been done, and indeed new grass is growing on the site, however it is obvious that the litter, landscaping fleece and gravel was buried under the soil and has now risen to the top. We are trying to get this repaired - properly.
Braydon Court Redevelopment: At the start of the development there was flurry of emails to find out if people minded the graffiti on the barricade as we knew we would have to live with it for at least a year. Remembering the dark and dismal images on the windows of the closed shops we ensured that the paintings were happier and more bearable. It is anticipated that the development will be complete by May 2010. Our representatives have attended the SBC Squares Focus Meeting. There have been a catalogue of problems, water leaks, gas leaks, telephone and electric cuts, and the poor state of the roads during this development. The waste also concerned us, feeling that some of the things thrown on the backs of skips could have been re-used, if only Swindon had a reclamation yard! We tried to get McColls to reduce the amount of ¡®in your face¡¯ advertising of cheap alcohol. One window was changed.
Swindon Strategic Housing Land Availability, we had sight of the list for Penhill, mostly backlands and made comment accordingly.
Cricklade Road Development: This is development on the back gardens of houses in Cricklade road. On and off, then on and off again, we have twice commented on the plans for private development on this land. Badger setts have received protection and enhancements for them have been built into plans and several trees have tree preservation orders on them. Now there are plans for a development by Sovereign Housing Association. The Badger group have been alerted to check the site and we hope that residents will keep an eye on it during development.
Blunsdon Bypass: No action taken although there has been discussion at meetings about the safety of the slip roads etc.
Bus services: No 21 Inevitably they cut the No 10, half-hourly service and changed it to No 21 ¨C hourly. Our councillors and we have been trying to get them to reconsider now that the Academy is open. We did of course object on these ground before the cut in service.
Cycle route: Cricklade Road. We have commented on the proposed route of the Cricklade Road cycleway. No news on when this may be put in, although it mainly follows the pathways.
Town-wide meetings and organisations
We think that this Empower Swindon may see itself as being more¡¯ voluntary ¡® than community and again may make no difference to the issues faced by geographical communities/neighbourhoods, unless of course, we have a community representation to give us a voice on the partnership. Empower Swindon will be able to download funding to provide better support services, if not grants, for us.
Voluntary and Community Forum: This is a regular Forum led by Voluntary Action Swindon, which our representatives attend, it is very useful as it covers issues important to help manage and support our groups. There has been a change of management and an adjustment of direction which will hopefully lead to Voluntary Action and the V&C Forum being more receptive to the volunteers in the voluntary and community sector.
Stronger Community Forum: A Borough led Forum, usually a place to pick up information on what¡¯s new. Usually the news is less support.
Neighbourhood Renewal Task Group: After a very useful conference held by the Community Federation, our rep to this group felt that the meetings got rather bogged down in the Connecting People, Connecting Places Cluster issue and felt that it was unproductive for Penhill to continue attend.
Swindon Federation of Community Organisations: The Penhill representative has now resigned from the board of this organisation. We do however remain affiliated to the National Federation ¨C Community Matters and make good use of its very informative web site.
Fair share Panel continues to meet. WSCF did not extend the contract of the Community worker introduced to us at last year¡¯s AGM, beyond the probationary period and reviewed the usefulness; in it¡¯s present form, to the community. Although there are 4 named places on the panel, there is a poor turn out for Penhill at the panel meetings. This means we do not have the influence we should.
CLIP: CLIP continues to be one of the most popular and successful Adult Learning Centres in Swindon and provides excellent learning opportunities when funding is available. The local management committee also manages the John Moulton Hall for the benefit of the community. CLIP is in the process of applying to the Fair share fund for the posts of a centre manager and a locally managed community worker. Clip has also welcomed an advice session by Parks Advice Point to John Moulton Hall.
Orchard: A quiet year at Penhill Orchard, work parties have continued despite illness. There was some vandalism at the end of the summer holidays, with a loss of about ten trees (and of course their 5 years growth). A corporate volunteer team from Motorola came and cleared scrub, re-did a part of the fence and undercoated the units. The school contractors went through plants and left gaps when they renewed the school fence. However there was a very good crop of all fruit and willow.
Penhill Voice Media Group: The Penhill Voice Media group continues to meet and cover anything going on in the community, events, stories etc, and also covering the Penhill News, so that it goes out regularly on the radio. The media group covered the Seven Fields Splash Park Group fun day last August and were successful in getting many local people to speak on the radio. They aim to do the same for the Seven Fields Splash park groups St George¡¯s Day event this year. Kevan continues to work hard on the recording and editing side of things, and they are hoping to hold a pre-election Question Time event that will be broadcast on air to reach the local Penhill listeners who are unable to attend. Interest in the media group is growing and they are keen to get anyone in the community involved, including youth. The programmes are broadcast on Swindon 105.5fm on Tuesdays at 10.am and repeated at 1.pm Wednesday. The radio and the Penhill News work together whenever possible. Penhill now has one of the best community communications systems.
Play and Youth Partnership Group: The group continues to meet monthly and it serves to help joined-up thinking when it comes to out of school activities.
It had last been decided (pending a feasibility study) that the Multi Agency teams (now called Locality Teams) for Children¡¯s Services would be coming to Uplands. We hoped that we could then make contact with them, to use part of the building. This would be with a view, when they moved out as we felt they inevitably would, taking over the building for our own play and youth work towards our @ penhill park plan. It took just one council cluster meeting, at which our councillors were not present due to work commitments, to overturn that idea.
Despite all the efforts we have made with regard to the Upland School site, including meeting with senior officers, letters of interest, circulating minutes, senior councillor visit in 2008, conference days, presentations -our plan had been forgotten and disregarded. Our councillors have a taken immediate action to put things right and at least to bring discussion back to the Uplands building for play and youth work.
Paddling Pool/Water Play Park: With so much else to do, the group for this had run a little out of steam ¨C then Lorna Breslin created a Facebook Group, and set up a page for ¡®bring back the paddling pool¡¯. Within no time at all there were over a 1000 members, so they quickly responded and called a meeting and 16 people signed up to come as group to forward this part of the @penhill park plan. Now called Seven Fields Splash Park Group, they are raising awareness by a series of fun activities.
Seven Fields Conservation Group: The Group¡¯s history presentation was revised and was used for the CLIP AGM. Walkers are still spotting wildlife. Talks have been given to several Swindon groups about the Biodiversity of the Reserve. The extension to the Local Nature Reserve Designation, into Penhill Copse and Furrow Field is expected soon. This year the Rangers will be undertaking another species count to see if anything has changed in the ten years since the groups Millennium survey. A Facebook Group has been set up.
The Neighbourhood Safety Team meetings (NeST) have taken place throughout the year with attendee¡¯s identifying policing priorities in the area and looking at ways to ensure that NeST meetings work efficiently. Following the Tackle It Don¡¯t Tolerate It conference held by the Community Safety Partnership last November, Penhill NeST agreed to bring in a set of guidelines for the group to ensure it stays focused on the bigger picture and too prevent meetings getting bogged down with just one topic. A combined approach by residents of Penhill, the neighbourhood policing team and Swindon Borough Council has made inroads into some of the problems Penhill, (as does the whole of Swindon) face. Speeding, drugs and anti-social behaviour have all been addressed and residents are being asked to report every incident they witness or are concerned about so they can be fully addressed. Sadly we lost two of our NPT and are now down to just one officer supported by two PCSO¡¯s. The impact of this can be seen in the lack of visibility of officers in the area and the inability of the NPT to attend as many events as they did previously.
0845 Number: Complaints about problems with this number have arisen at NeST meetings and most Swindon Police meetings. Letters and emails of complaint have been sent. We have pointed out that if they want the help and support of the public in fighting crime they must make communications easier. We make no apologies for how many years this has appeared in our annual reports!
We would like to take the opportunity to thank the link worker Jane Dudley for her continuing help with support for events, especially when we need stationery/balloons/pens or give-aways.
Redoubt: Swindon has seen the development of a new charity, Redoubt whose aims are too support victims of anti-social behaviour and to offer training, advice or critical friend services to practitioners in ASB. Some of the founding members are Penhill residents and Redoubt started by their offering support to other victims in the Penhill area and then Swindon wide. Redoubt has produced an ASB Toolkit in CD ROM format and these will be available in the ASB Boxes placed around Penhill.
Libraries: We watched with concern at Library closures elsewhere in Swindon and agreed to support ours for as long as possible.
Housing Stock Transfer: We are following developments with the Housing Stock Transfer. We hope that there will be an effective and properly held consultation when/if the time comes.
SBC Community Asset Transfer Policy: We attended a seminar about this policy that SBC were trying to bring in. Afterwards we made representation to the borough about the way the seminar was held and pointed out that they had not properly consulted and had forgotten that community centres were not the only assets that local groups held. The consultation as called in.
Pinehurst Initiative Forum, We are so often lumped together with Pinehurst by the decision makers who appear to think we are alike, we make sure we keep in contact with their forum and talk regularly, receive each others minutes and have invitations to each others meetings.
Road Safety Issues: People continue to grumble about the traffic calming, some about the humps and some about the chicanes. Our councillors have secured a promise for a review but no news when that might be.
Relationship with the Borough: Connecting Places, Connecting People is set up with 7 clusters in Swindon. It aims to promote more engagement between our service providers and residents. Penhill is in the North Central Cluster along with Pinehurst, Gorsehill and Western Wards. Ian Bickerton is our Cluster Lead and he has met with us on several occasions. We hope to see more meaningful interaction between the volunteers and workers etc. in the coming year.
Another planned visit: We were planning to welcome senior SBC officer¡¯s to Penhill however trying to find a date when they are all available proved too difficult. In the end this didn¡¯t happen. There is also a constant change in officers, which makes life extremely difficult.
Penhill Community Association: We have heard little from the PCA during this year.
Websites: We have put links on the www.thisiswiltshire web site along with the Community Plan, the @penhill park plan and the Annual Reports, View from the Hill, Talkswindon, and thisispenhill. There are several Penhill Groups on Facebook. It is hoped that these web pages will soon be linked.
Contact List: We continue to maintain and add to our contact list, whenever we capture a new email address we ask if they would like to be added to the list. Through this list we spread information whenever possible.
Banks Signatures: We were unable to change the signatures for the bank. We will ensure this is completed from this year¡¯s AGM.