The latest Forum, on 16th January, brought up issues related to crime, parking, and the forthcoming budget cuts to Bristol City Council. There is a £101m (up from £92m) budget gap due to reduced income from central Government, and one thing that will experience a massive reduction is the Neighbourhood Partnership spending. Concerns were raised by attendees as to what would replace the neighbourhood forums, seen as providing a voice in local democracy. It was also contested as to why the Council should have to implement these cuts, with arguments for and against. Attendees noted a high level of local cynicism against democratic processes and feelings of disenfranchisement.
There are no further forums planned but the next ‘Neighbourhood Partnership’ meeting (covering Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill) is due to be held on 6th March 2017 at 6:30pm, Junction 3 Library, NS5 0FJ. Contact Gill Calloway (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Neil Burwell (email@example.com) for further information.
The latest budget cuts mean losing services and a rising reliance on businesses investing to keep areas alive and in good condition. The cuts announced last week look at reducing funding for Neighbourhood Partnerships, reducing library costs and possibly closing some libraries in the city. It continued by reducing funding to neighbourhood departments such as Parks and Green Spaces, and Neighbourhood Management, and even scrapping subsidies to private bus companies that could result in some bus routes closing. But how will this affect our local area?
Neighbourhood Partnerships (NP) dedicate themselves to ensuring that the residents in each partnership are happy within the area. There are 14 NPs across Bristol, and Ashley Ward is part of the Neighbourhood Partnership with Easton and Lawrence Hill. The vision of our NP is “to make the Ashley, Easton and Lawence Hill Neighbourhood Partnership area clean, green, safe, healthy and prosperous.”
But the new budget cuts look to scrap £1,572,000 funding for NPs across the city. This could mean a potential loss of £112,285 funding for the Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill NP.
Neighbourhood Partnership budget cuts:
- £100,000 funding is being scrapped from well being grants for NPs. Potential loss of £7,142 for the Ashley NP.
- £1,062,000 funding is being reviewed and possibly removed from Neighbourhood Partnerships. Potential loss of £75,857 for the Ashley NP.
- £410,000 funding will no longer be given towards Neighbourhood Partnership traffic schemes. Potential loss of £29,286 for Ashley NP.
This will reduce the number of projects the partnership can undertake to improve the areas. Additionally it will mean the partnership will need to re-evaluate its priority areas to accommodate the budget changes. Current priorities in danger due to budget cuts:
- Reduce congestion on the Highway Network
- Improve the safety of footways and highways
- Ensure resident parking schemes are well managed, being enforced effectively and reviewed regularly
Health and Wellbeing:
- Improve the health and wellbeing of residents
- Support the objectives of the Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill Health Improvement Plan. This includes providing more support in starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle . Improving sports facilities to encourage physical activity. They are also aiming to improve access to mental health and emotional wellbeing services.
The reduction of the wellbeing grant could see an end to community grants for wellbeing events. These events include CASS’s latest advertising for grants for children’s mental health activities this year.
Read more on CASS schemes for children’s mental health here.
Another danger is the loss of libraries throughout Bristol. The budget plans to cut £1,400,000 funding towards libraries, which means libraries face closure across the city. The council have said that although some libraries may close, they aim to use the resources to improve the quality of those that stay open. With only one library within the Ashley Ward area (part of St Pauls Learning Centre), it would be a massive loss to residents in the community who use the building as meeting places as well as its educational and entertainment resources.
The reduction to Parks and Green Spaces funding could lead to more reliance on groups such as Mina Road Park Group (MRPG). MRPG monitors local parks and green spaces and raises issues at monthly meetings to consider ways to fix them.