As you will all remember the goverment has recently introduced a new inner city renewal initiative? I have been given charge of this project and this report will cover the issues that I feel crucial to meet with these objectives.
Depravation matters to both those who experience it and those who do not. (1)
1.1 Blackwell is a city in the North of the region and at present it faces high amounts of social depravation. Old estates consist of mostly social housing and areas are in decay both physically and socially.
1.2 Houses have now been recently transferred to Mc Gibbens housing association.
1.3 Levels of unemployment are above national average; education and general economy are also poor.
1.4 Crime rates are above national average.
1.5 Tenures consist mostly of rented social housing.
1.6 High population of unpopular housing. I.e. High rise buildings.
1.7 ” The wide gap between poor neighbourhoods and the rest results from a complex combination of factors. Some of the factors are social and economic changes that have affected many countries. When these combine they can create a complex and fast moving viscous cycle. However, over several decades, the polices and actions of central and local government have not been good enough at tackling these issues; and sometimes they have been a part of the problem. ” (2)
Social and economic changes
2.1 The social and economic changes that affect the city of Blackwell are
The decline of the manufacturing industry and recent recessions.
> Skill demand getting greater affecting employment chances.
> The breakdown of the traditional family, higher rates of lone parents many of who are reliant of benefit.
> Increased drug and alcohol consumption.
2.2 These social and economic changes to society all play a major part in the breakdown of social cohesion. Neighbourhoods are seen as less attractive if all or some of these economic/social changes occur.
2.3 “No neighbourhood will ever be sustainable if the underlying economics cannot be made to work” (3)
2.4 Previous government polices have tried to combat this however they have proven to be ineffective. This from a person perspective I feel happened because the following factors was not taken into consideration…
> A boom and bust economy
> Not efficiently tackling barriers to work (childcare and transport)
> High rents of social housing making it assessable to those only on benefits
> Failure to attract business to the area
2.5 The inner city renewal initiative will try and overcome all these barriers within its agenda.
3.1 Action needs to be taken to reduce these inequalities within the city of Blackwell. We as a council need to join forces with local authorities and other public services as well as existing residents and private and voluntary sector organisations.
3.2 A central office for this rehabilitation work needs to be opened. This could be funded by money from the government’s neighbourhood renewal fund and for the purpose of this report it will now be known as a community centre.
3.3 Within the community building different organisations need to be contained inside. Victim support and a local police office will be offered an office as well as local drug and alcohol initiatives.
3.4 Rationalisation of activity needs to be monitored this would effectively cut down on bureaucracy and waste. By sharing a community centre a greater link would be made with these organisations.
3.5 Staffing will consist of a mixture of both civil servant as well as those with relevant experience in the voluntary sector. The staff will work closely with neighbourhood renewal teams.
Tenant Participation group
4.1 I feel that the main key to social cohesion within the city of Blackwell is to empower the existing residents to make informed choices of there own regarding the neighbourhood.
4.2 Questionnaires will be delivered to all households regarding improvements they would like to see implemented.
4.3 Formation of a tenant participation group will then occur.
4.4 Police could be invited to these meetings and the formation of a neighbourhood watch committee could then made possible This would help to elevate some of the high crime figures found in the area.
5.1 The community centre as fore mentioned could also double up as a youth centre out of office hours. From meeting and talking to residents previously and from extensive links with the police force it is felt that the high level of crime and vandalism in the area is conducted by youths with no where to go.
5.2 I propose a youth group to be opened at the centre three evenings a week. Blackwell could also take the initiative from other local authorities and create a youth empowerment project.
5.3 The centre could consist of a pool table and Internet cafï¿½. Learn direct could be brought in to offer short computer courses to those that would benefit.
5.4 The centre would employ a variety of staff and youth workers. All of which could come from the area of Blackwell itself. Empowering local residents and lowering the unemployment rates.
5.5 Links with a local health authority need to be made and a free sexual health service could be offered on the estate to all youths between the ages of 13-25. This centre would not only screen for sexually transmitted diseases but also offer a free and confidential contraception and counselling service.
Youth empowerment project
6.1 Vandalism as you are all aware is a major problem within the estate. It makes the area look disadvantaged and run down.
6.2 My suggestion is that we put into place a youth empowerment project. This project would be based at the community centre and run by a continuing member of the youth team.
6.3 The project, which would be funded externally, could consist of ten selective team members. These team members would be responsible for the cleaning up of the estate and ridding it of vandalism. This in turn for a token voucher each week of ï¿½10.
6.4 These schemes have proven to be successful in the past and are a sure-fire way to prevent further vandalism within the area.
7.1 Unemployment is high within the estate. According to government spending policy’s sure start is to be extended to cover a third of all infants by 2004. There will be extensions in the excellence in the cites programme and a new entitlement to out of hours study support for all secondary school pupils. A children’s fund will be in place to work with vulnerable 5 to 13 year olds and a connexions service to keep 13 to 19 year olds in learning. For adults, measures including creating 6,000 new online centres and an adult basic skill strategy will be put into place. (4)
7.2 Learn direct and local colleges will be invited to run local courses at the community centre for adults. These courses could include basic maths and English as well as computer skills.
7.3 A Childcare facility for those parents/carers undertaking such a course would be provided. I feel that the cost for this should be kept minimal with just a small voluntary contribution for each parent that uses the service. A small contribution I feel however is crucial as it is a valuable process in empowering local people.
7.4 Blackwell currently has three local schools within its area. More funding needs to placed into these schools as well as more focus being put into extra curriculum activities.
7.5 Better and more childcare facilities need to be invested into. This would enable more parents to be able to enter employment and become more self-sufficient. Budgeting skills need to be implemented at a local level and the possibility of local after school clubs could be considered.
8.1 Due to low economy within the area public transport is limited.
8.2 As an area we should be making links with local transport companies and provide assessable and regular transportation from Blackwell to surrounding areas.
Poor Housing and Physical environment.
9.0 Many the houses within Blackwell are in a poor state of decay.
9.1 Now ownership of these properties remains the responsibility of Gibbens I feel that it is essential to work closely with this housing association to ensure good practice and best value conducted.
9.2 Essential renovation needs to occur within 60% of all properties. Many houses need adequate heating and living conditions in place to bring them up to the national standard. Improvements that are not essential but required I.e. new kitchen cupboards and bathrooms could be placed in the properties and a small weekly charge could occur to tenants for this added privilege.
9.3 Demolition of the more unpopular housing such as tower blocks needs to be considered. Better more affordable housing could be constructed in its place as well as a number of owner occupation tenures. A mixed income and mixed tenure site could be made. Half the homes rebuilt could be at affordable rents or for shared ownership. A small percentage of these homes could also be built for private ownership.
9.4 Attracting owner-occupiers to the area will deem to make the area more attractive and increase the economy. In addition, more money will become assessable through sale of land.
9.5 Youth empowerment teams as previously mentioned could be used to tidy up the area however the physical environment also needs to be considered at all times. There is a distinct lack of children’s recreational grounds and greenery within the city.
9.6 I propose that a children’s play area and a skateboard ramp is put into place within the Blackwell recreational park. In addition, more benches around the shopping centre for the elderly.
9.7 Recycling will occur from August 2004. A weekly doorstep collection will be provided for people within the area to have access to recycling facilities for paper, glass and clothing.
9.8 Mediation services need to be put into place to minimise neighbourhood disputes and anti-social behaviour. “Nottingham Mediation services successfully conclude two thirds of cases they tackle.” (5)
9.9 Better planning for disabled people also needs to be considered in Blackwell. The inner city renewal strategy need to work closely with a disabled peoples community group to advise on all issues affecting disabled people. The disabled community group could also work with the areas planning committee to ensure that all future planning applications consider assess for disabled people within their design.
9.10 Initiative such as the Wakefield rent deposit scheme could also be taken into consideration. Wakefields rental deposit scheme enables vulnerable homeless people to assess private rented property of good standard by providing the financial deposit required by landlords. It supports tennant’s in practical ways such as benefit help, budgeting and health issues. This enables people to live independent and settled life’s.
Jobs and Local Economy
10.1 A job shop could be implemented within the area this office could offer help with CV’s and applications. It could offer free assess to office facilities and phone calls in a relaxed environment. It could also offer clients interview skills and free adult education courses.
10.2 Glasgow has been very instrumental in the development of intermediate labour market programmes. I feel that Blackwell should follow there initiative and provide long term unemployed people the chance of training whilst paying a wage. This programme would then contribute to community regeneration through activities such as childcare and environmental improvements.
10.3 A typical community spends more than 20 per cent of its gross income on energy, with 80% of this money leaving the local area. (6) If a series of energy efficient measure were ploughed back into the local economy then more generation of jobs would occur.
11.1 There are no specific resources allocated to fund the work of the inner city renewal strategies however funding is available through the neighbourhood renewal fund and the single regeneration budget.