Bev's Big Local Blog

Bev's November Blog (posted 10th November 2014)

Will we ever be able to do some cycling, buggy pushing, wheelchair travelling and walking to town without the killer hills?

It’s been another month, another Big Local North East Hastings meeting. The November meeting was busy, full of residents, partner organisations and two big presentations. We heard from Hastings Building Stronger Bridges, a great new project aimed at helping individuals and groups get involved helping their neighbours, and get help if they needed it – more on this at a later date but details can be found on Facebook and at Rother Voluntary Action.

However, the highlight of the meeting for me was thinking about the new Greenway proposed to be built through the Ore Valley. This would be a gradient controlled (in other words not too steep) pathway linking up East Hastings to the town centre. It will be designed to be used for cycles, buggies, disability scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and everyone else not in a motorbike or car. There are some fantastic examples of Greenway projects across the country, which enable people to get from one place to another without a car in a safe environment. They are also used just for leisure purposes, so for example people could easily get in to the woods, or to green areas. I’ve been lucky enough to use a Greenway down in North Devon before, which is part of the Tarka Trail just for a lovely walk, and a scoot for the children on their scooters.

In our area the route would likely go from Hastings Academy, down to Ore Village, through Speckled Wood and then via Ore Station and finally to the Town Centre. Key parts of the route are essential to making it easier for people to get about – for example one early piece of work would be making a clear path from the Broomgrove Estate via the Adventure Playground down to Ore station. This would make the journey to the station much more straight forward and quicker to use. It would of course, open up employment opportunities for local residents too – enabling them to get freely and safely to and from industrial estates, the station, the shops and schools/colleges.

The group voted to give a grant of £10,000 to Ore Community Land Trust, with the majority of the money going to Sustrans, the leading charity and experts in developing Greenways. This grant will enable a detailed plan for the Ore Valley Greenway to be drawn up, including all the environmental assessments. The work will also include design, costings of the work, and assessment of need plus community consultations.

Actually building the Greenway will of course, take a lot more money – we’re confident however that with the £6 million pounds allocated to Hastings and St Leonards (although not available until 2018 unfortunately) to develop the total Greenway networks across the town, and some additional money, including from new developers, that there will be no reason that if the Greenway can be built, and local people are in support it will be built.

It is a really inspirational idea that we can have a lovely route across the Ore valley, and down in to the town, and that it will actually be usable for those reluctant cyclists like me who just can’t take the cycling up the hills, and frankly are terrified of cycling down them.

There have been some worries that the route will be safe. Part of this safety will be ensuring it is well lit, undergrowth well cut back and so on. For me, the main safety issue will be its use. We’ll need to make sure it is well used and publicised. Possibly we could call it the Badger trail, and even encourage tourists up here in to the Ore Valley to see the lovely garden destroyers’ wildlife. What do you think? Would you like a local Greenway? The project will be looking for all your views, so please feel free to comment on this post, or get thinking in readiness for the local consultation next year.

Whilst researching this post I came across this really interesting project up in London, and I just thought I’d share here; Community-led street design, Turnpike Lane, Haringey | Sustrans

Bev Jenkins, 10 November 2014, blog post 2

 

Big Local Blog post 8 October 2014 or ‘What’s happening with that million pound then?’

The Big Local Residents Led Partnership Meeting took place yesterday evening, this is the group that have consulted with people who live, work and use services in our local area of North East Hastings to improve the neighbourhood. The National Lottery via the Big Local have promised North East Hastings (essentially what the rest of us know as the bit of town from Hastings Academy, Downs Farm/Red Lake, to Ore village, and then down to Ore station including Broomgrove area) a million pound over ten years.

Local people have been asked how they would like our area to be improved over this time. They have identified the following as the key things they’d like to see changed:

  • More things to do in the area – for children, young people, older adults (55 plus) and all residents. These included activities, courses, and buildings like a possible youth centre.
  • Better training and skills development for people in the area to improve work prospects, life aspirations and boost education for all, not just the young.
  • Need for more sports and leisure facilities from a swimming pool, to the possibility of an all-weather games area to even our own local leisure centre.
  • Green spaces – saving Speckled Wood, creating cycle paths to town, possibility creating an ‘Ore Village Green’.
  • Community Centres and ‘bringing them back to life’ with more activities and longer opening hours. This includes possibility of longer opening hours of the Adventure Playground too.
  • Better what’s on information so local people know what is going on across our area.
  • Better public transport including supporting local buses and trains and making sure everyone could get to them, get on them – disabled access, and afford to use them.
  • The feel of the area – a good tidy up, less dog mess and rubbish but also keeping the good bits like local shops and a good local community.

The aim of the residents’ partnership is to work on all these areas, with help from the council, housing associations, schools, learning providers and many others.

There is an action plan for the first three years of the Big Local North East Hastings which started 2014. The aim of the meetings is for the actions to be checked and the plan updated and everyone to be kept informed of how the work is going.

At the meeting on 7 October there were around 20 people present including local residents, housing associations, the council, a school governor, people from the community centres and so on. Ron introduced the meeting, and said that local residents are very welcome to attend at any time – even if they are not formally on the partnership.

We had an update from the project development worker, Jan Papworth, about the small grants money. The first batch of small grants had supported over ten projects. This included things like a sewing class at two local community centres, and part of the development of a new local website;  http://www.orecommunity.org.uk

The meeting agreed that from now on the Small Grants Scheme would be more formalised, with meetings three times a year to look at new applications. These applications will be checked closely to see how they match the needs of the local area. £12,000 a year is available in small grants.

The finances for the Big Local were discussed and made clear for newcomers like me. The Chair of the meeting Ron explained the following;

Over ten years the Big Local will have one million pounds to spend. The Big Local in Hastings has had some money already and this had been spent and planned to be spent as follows;

  • Getting Started money - £20,000 this has been spent on finding out what people want, putting together publicity and the start-up costs.
  • Pathway Funding - £20,000 – Most of this has been spent, with about £2,000 left at the moment. This has gone on the small grants and employing a development worker.
  • The Action Plan – see it via http://www.biglocalnortheasthastings.org.uk  has £127,000 for year 1, Year 2 - £134,000, and Year 3 - £141,000. This hasn’t been spent yet but the spending is planned to be a total of £400,000 in the first three years. The idea is that money attracts money and that we will be able to add other funding to our Big Local money to achieve some of the big ideas.

The Creation of a Village Green – The partnership agreed £1000 to go towards starting the plans to develop this. Ore Community Land Trust are also adding in money.

The Big Local AGM is being planned for early December and date will be announced soon.  There will be a cash raffle, and children’s activities are also going to be planned to help people with families attend.

The next meeting is on Thursday 6th November at 6pm, Orbit’s offices near Ore Station.

Bev Jenkins