Greater responsibility for communities as town hall powers are handed to residents

 

Communities are to be given more responsibility for the things that matter most to them as part of a new scheme aimed at devolving town hall powers to residents.

Three pilots will be established in South Norwood, Purley and New Addington to assess how residents can best work alongside the council to shape how projects and services are delivered locally.

As part of the six month pilot – which is recommended for approval by Cabinet this evening, communities will also be asked to identify key issues, needs and priorities in their neighbourhoods and to put forward suggestions on how these can be resolved.

The initiative follows the success of a similar scheme in Thornton Heath which saw residents, business owners and other stakeholders work together with councillors to identify key issues in the area.

Feedback from the community was used to specifically shape a number of projects, such as the cleaning of the clock tower along with 9000sqm of paving along the high street and identifying places of interest and hidden gems around Thornton Heath for which new signage was produced. Another project, included a search for local artists who worked with the community to develop ideas for public art, which is now being produced to flank the walls along High Street and Brigstock Road.

Last year, more power was handed to residents across Croydon when the council introduced the community budget programme. The initiative, which is led by councillors with the involvement of local residents and business owners, gives each area in the borough its own budget to spend on local projects.

Residents were at the heart of decisions on how the money was spent and in Fieldway; it was shared between a Christmas lights competition, the New Addington Carnival, tickets for local scouts, a youth club cooking project, a healthy meal for elderly residents and the New Addington Autism Group.

The budget in Croham funded the printing of a bi-annual newsletter, the South End Christmas lights, photographic equipment and Ipads for a local school, the local scout group’s centenary celebration and lighting to the scout hut and work in a community garden.

The council’s commitment to devolution has seen funding for this year’s community ward budgets double to £288,000, giving communities more money to spend on what matters to them. An annual budget of £12,000 will be given to areas with three councillors, who will each be given £4,000, and £6,000 to each councillor in New Addington and Fieldway, where there are fewer members.

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council

“This council is committed to entrusting more powers from the town hall to local communities and the pilot scheme will enable residents in South Norwood, Purley and New Addington to be at the heart of decisions made about their local area. Most importantly, it will give those living and working in these areas a strong voice in the delivery of local services and projects planned for their communities.

“Croydon is growing rapidly and every community must benefit. Every neighbourhood has different needs and it is important these are highlighted so they can be addressed. To improve the places we live, everyone needs to contribute and local communities must be involved in the decisions around the development of their local area, as well as the borough as a whole.”

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