By Neil Harrison (Cotham Ward Councillor)
Our Neighbourhood Partnership covers the Council wards of Cotham, Redland and Bishopston – broadly the area bounded by Whiteladies Road and Gloucester Road (as far as Horfield Common). It is comprised of the civil society organisations that make our community tick, including the amenities societies, the sustainability groups, neighbourhood watch, the police and local councillors. The overriding purpose of the Partnership is to take and/or inform decisions about how our local community should work, as far as we are permitted by national laws and local policies.
There are two particular aspects that are of relevance to Sustainable Redland. The first is the Wellbeing Fund that the Partnership manages. This amounts to £30,000 each year that is dedicated to improving our local community and into which local organisations can bid for project funding. For example, the Winning Whiteladies Project has been supported by Wellbeing Fund grants from our Partnership and the next-door one. In the past, it has funded recycling education projects and others with a sustainability angle. There is scope for much more of this work in the future, with Sustainable Redland being well-placed to lead.
The second is that the Partnership takes decisions about minor transport projects. There is always less money available in the budget than there are ideas to use it on, but the Partnership has focused over the last few years on those that prioritise pedestrian safety. Recent examples include the new zebra crossing on Cotham Road and the Partnership has signed off works to the junction of Lower Redland Road and Chapel Green Lane and improvements to the zebra crossing on Coldharbour Road. All of these are important to promote a safe and pleasant walking environment to encourage people out of their cars.
The Partnership does have other roles too, like helping to shape Council policies on planning or parks which come along from time to time, but these are too numerous to detail. To finish with ‘a bit of politics’ (as Ben Elton used to say), I think that the Partnership is entering a dangerous time with the embedding of the Mayor. The experience with residents parking has shown the danger of a centralising mentality that undermines the community-led ethos of the fifteen partnerships across the city. I think that we collectively need to flex our muscles in the future to ensure that our community continues to have an active voice in how it becomes more sustainable.