The Final Forum

March 24 2017

The last Forum of the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership (BCRNP) was held on March 16 at Redland Green School.

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The last Forum of the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership (BCRNP) was held on March 16 at Redland Green School. 

Following the approval of Bristol City Council’s budget for 2017/18 on February 21, the Neighbourhood Partnership (NP) system of locally devolved management is coming to an end in June when a raft of cost cutting measures will be implemented. 

Councillors have agreed a 4.99% increase in council tax, with 3% of that levy paying for adult social care. The move will bring in just over £9m extra for the council during the year, helping reduce the need for cuts in services. Even with this the council expects to have to save £39.4m during the year to balance its books, and the meeting approved 112 savings proposals worth £33.1m towards achieving this.

There was a good turnout for the Forum and plenty of encouragement from councillors for community groups to keep on with their activities. The Street Scene and Parks groups were praised for the noticeable difference their work makes to the area, clearing away litter, painting over graffiti and helping to keep the neighbourhood looking attractive and inviting.

Group discussions were held during the evening to discover what people liked about the NP system, what could be done differently and ideas were sought for community involvement after the NP is disbanded. 

The NP was praised for allowing a two-way conversation between the council and residents and for giving a sense of belonging to an area. Having neighbourhood officers was considered a great benefit as they have been able to pass on advice, letting people know how they can get things done. Volunteers felt empowered through the NP, giving people, such as those behind Street Scene the validity to carry out the work that they were doing to improve the look of the community.

It was acknowledged that better engagement with all age groups in the area is needed to improve community turnout. 

The discussion included many animated discussions and it was clear that people are keen to carry on as before once the NP is disbanded. An online forum was suggested to help people stay in touch with each other and to find out about local community groups and projects, and there was a suggestion to set up a fundraising arm. 

Earlier in the evening Sue Mountstevens, gave an interesting talk about her work as Police and Crime Commissioner, and her priority of protecting the most vulnerable in our society and keeping police community support officers on the beat. 

Ms Mountstevens explained that Avon and Somerset Police have stopped the use of police cells for mentally ill people and have introduced mental health nurses working in call centres to advise the police on what intervention to take. 

The talk was followed by a lively and interesting question and answer session.