Locality, locality, there's nothing like locality

BC has just stumbled across a rather interesting debate in the 'suggest topic' thread, and we thought it was worthy of a wider airing. The topic is locality funding, and the issue is inter-ward collaboration.

For those who aren't up on local government funding streams, here's some background:
A couple of years back (perhaps - can one of our resident experts confirm?), Lewisham Council set up a Locality Fund with the aim of 'supporting community engagement and initiatives in each [council] ward'.
The funding is worth £10,000 per ward per year, and is allocated based on ward councillors' recommendations after consultation with the local assemblies and through public meetings, surgeries and contact with local community groups and individuals.

This is, of course, a wonderful opportunity to address many of the relatively minor local issues which struggle to win the council's attention in the face of wider strategic priorities. It's also great to give local communities input into how their money is used.

The idea also raises some issues about notions of community and collaboration which BC thought were interesting.

The discussion on the 'Suggest Topic' thread focussed around the Brockley Max festival's attempts to fundraise through the Locality Fund. The organisers applied to three wards - Crofton Park, Ladywell and Brockley - and were turned down by Crofton Park on the basis that the event did not take place within the ward (according to the account on the thread - if anyone would like to provide BC with further detail on this, please do!). This is despite the fact that Jam Circus, a stalwart Max supporter and regular Max event host, lies well within the ward.

There are two issues to contemplate here - firstly, the extent to which wards could or should collaborate in funding cross-boundary priorities, and secondly, the question of where boundaries lie.
Tamsin made the point during the previous discussion that the Telegraph Hill ward, for example, is rather invidiously drawn up, spanning several distinct areas and lacking a clear high street or other focal point.

BC would also venture to suggest that sometimes it can be better to focus on developing one area as a 'destination', rather than trying to achieve the same thing in several areas and simply spreading the money and effort too thinly to create a critical level of momentum.

Edit: BC would be very interested to hear the views of local councillors and others involved in the allocation of locality funding, and those who have bid for locality funding. Please post in the comments section, below.


Anonymous said...

I'll contend that the focal point of Telegraph hill is that hilly, telegraph-marker type object in the middle of it.

mg said...

St Hilda's church and Mr Lawrence also hosted events, and Aqua, Celee, First Impressions and Mr L all contributed to the raffle. A bit baffling to hear Crofton Park wasn't involved!

Tamsin said...

If anon means the 1970s add-on to St. Catherine's Church - where there are various community centre activities and plans for a Cafe (working party this weekend, stroll by and laugh at people getting messy and sweaty clearing rubbish, or else join in) then yes, that is a focal point, but only for the Telegraph Hill section of the Ward, just one of the five distinct areas.

The Somerville Estate looks to the Barnes Wallis Centre and a couple of shops round the corner form it, and the Kender Triangle is north of the Queen's Road and is about to be relieved of traffic cutting it in half but will become even more isolated with two-way A-road traffic on all three sides. Both these are within the NDC area and so tend to look north for funding and guidance.

At the other end we have the Honor Oak Estate with twin foci of the Wardens Office, shops and Children's Centre on St. Norbert Road (south end) and the Honor Oak Community Centre on Turnham Road. Stuck in the middle with no focus whatsoever is what has been termed on these blogs "the west side".

A very interesting Ward!

drakefell debaser said...

I disagree that westside lacks any focus whatsoever. The Broca Food Market and surrounding shops act as focal point. Last year the community got stuck in a replanted the flower beds there. There is also a community garden workshop down by Pincott Place. New flats are being built on Mantle Rd, Endwell Crt has recently been refurbished, Martins Yard is due to happen at some point...

Goodness me, it's not some hamlet of the damned you know.

Tamsin said...

Yes, totally true. It really has much more going for it now than the centre bit of Telegraph Hill. I was being slightly ironic and had in mind Cat Man's repeated complaints.

drakefell debaser said...

I think catman moved to Winchester hence the sudden spurt of rejuvenation ;]

*Enter Stage Left: Catman*

The Cat Man said...

Hello :)

I helped plant those flowers - it was a great weekend. The 'darkside' is becoming the new hotspot - loads of marketing yuppies have moved in, kind of annoying actually!

Michael said...

There is no reason why the localities fund and larger mayor's fund cannot be spent outside the ward, if it is to the benefit of local people and their priorities.

The Forest Hill localities fund has previously gone towards bat monitoring in Sydenham Woods (in Southwark but only just), and this year money from the mayor's fund went to the Rockbourne Youth Club in Perry Vale ward (but used by people in Forest Hill). Perry Vale ward assembly also gave funding to Rockbourne Youth club in a separate project.

So cross-ward funding can happen, and does happen when the localities money is used best. It is difficult to get actual cooperation by councillors or different parties, but applicants and community groups can encourage shared funding between wards.

Monkeyboy said...

Ahhh...wildlife. I worked on a project where we had to delay by some weeks to allow the slow worm breeding season to finish. One of our less progressive mangers suggested that a can of petrol and a carelesly discarded cigarette could resolve the situation, the slow worms prevailed and got it on as only slow worms can.

Brian Robson said...

Here on the other side of the borough in Lee Green, we've jointly funded projects with the Lewisham Central ward locality fund in the past. Hither Green Station forms part of our ward boundary in the same way that Brockley Station does for you.

The locality question is interesting - when we had 'Area Forums' covering three wards, we found it difficult to establish common ground and people suggested a ward-based approach would be better. I think overall that it is - but you do need to look outward sometimes, too!

Anonymous said...

Brockley Max events have been hosted in Brockley, Ladywell and Crofton Park. Also Crofton Park is the original site of the Brockley village and is on Brockley Road so is part of Brockely. Sounds like the Council were just being stingey.

ppp said...

I brought up this original topic, but it got waylaid by some anon with an axe to grind. So I just left it as I don't come on here engage in arguments.

It is hard to get the balance right regarding local micro public funding. You need wise people involved whatever the structure, by 'area' or locality. Yeah The Brockley Max has Brockley in title and neighbouring wards, but it's good for the whole area, kinda like this blog really.

Anonymous said...

I think it helps if the homogeneous wards have the same coordinating officer. That's the way opportunities for cross-funding are picked up early.

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