BCAF back in action

The Forum questions John Clark
The Forum questions John Clark

Story: Lisa Swift

The Vestry Hall saw many familiar faces at the Forum’s AGM, and some new ones. 14 residents were voted on to the Coordinating Committee en bloc, including members of the Somali, Yemeni, Caribbean and white communities.

It was disappointing that many of those being elected were not present for the meeting, but it was agreed to elect them, in the hope that they will be able to take an active part in the committee in the future.

John Clark, New Deal Chief Executive, had been invited to the meeting to present New Deal’s delivery plan for year 8 of the programme, and their plans for what would be left behind when the New Deal finishes in three years time.

John praised the impact of current projects, such as study support, where the children involved have made measurably more progress than others, and the employment projects which had seen 100 people getting jobs every three months. He also pointed to successes such as crime figures going down and Sorby House being completed, now due to be handed over ready for tenants.

For the coming year he stated that among New Deals priorities were investment in Pitsmoor Adventure Playground and Spital Hill; where helping businesses improve their premises was the priority. He also highlighted that capacity building support for groups would be going out to tender and that the community radio station was developing a new vision to get funding.

This was followed by questions from residents.

Councillor Jackie Drayton raised concerns about funding for capacity building,

“This contract should be delivered by local groups as much as possible, rather than going to city wide organisations such as Voluntary Action Sheffield.”

John said the tendering process would be publicised locally.

Diane Johnson said,

“Why hasn’t anything been done about Nottingham Cliff Park? A year ago we had volunteers waiting to help do something, but nothing is done. Does someone have to be killed for something to happen?”

John advised people to tell New Deal what they thought the priorities should be, as part of the consultation on the Year 8 delivery plan.

Dave Fisher said housing to meet the needs of local people should be the priority

“Recent figures from the Council say 40% affordable housing is needed, yet 15% is all that we are getting in the new housing developments in Burngreave. When are we going to start meeting the need?”

John said this was not something that New Deal could control, as it was Council policy.

The Messenger expressed concern about how the buildings New Deal owned would generate income, rather than becoming a liability for the Community. In particular what had happened to the residents group set up to steer the Vestry Hall? John replied that the New Vestry Hall Manager would ensure this groups meetings were widely publicised.

Drew Dallen said there was a gap in the capacity for new community groups, “Support should be for groups to form and then to stay together, that should be the priority.”

Maxine Bowler then asked John to answer the questions printed in the February Messenger, about the employment of consultants sacked from South Kilburn New Deal.

“What was the total value of the contracts with the two men from South Kilburn and were they approved by the board?”

John Clark said

“The two projects weren’t approved; they were going through appraisal when the story broke. The men were employed on the commendation and recommendation of Brent Council.”

Despite this making very little sense the meeting decided to move on to what happens after New Deal.

John Clark said a new organisation would be set up to take over from New Deal; mainly to manage the Community assets; Sorby House, Forum House and the Vestry Hall. And while the new organisation would cover the whole of Burngreave, following the model of the Area Panel, the income from the assets would only be for the New Deal area.

Ian Clifford asked, “So what’s Sorby House for? Does it stack up financially? How will the community be able to afford to use it?”

John replied

“There will be subsidised rates for local business and community organisations will have a 25% reduction, but Sorby House is not a community centre, its purpose is to generate income. We estimate that it will generate £250,000 per year and that’s based on 75-80% occupancy. We only need the Vestry Hall and Forum House to break even.”

Annie Blindell asked if the business plan would be made available; John replied that it would be on the New Deal website in the next week.

It was unclear where BCAF fitted into New Deal’s plan for the future, or if it even figured at all.

Concerns were then raised about the availability of jobs, a resident said,

“Many people in the area want to work; there are no jobs for them. It’s no use investing money, when the jobs are not there.”

John said joblessness was at 15% for the area, a murmur from the meeting suggested some were concerns about the figure, which is far higher than the national average. He went on to say there were several projects based at Forum House who are helping people into work.

After lunch the discussion went on to focus on what were the priorities for the Forum, which included fundraising for the organisation, holding New Deal to account on the issue of assets and supporting local community groups. And there was a call for Action to be the priority for Burngreave Community Action Forum.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Lisa Swift on 2008-02-06 09:35:25.
The content of the page was last modified by Lisa Swift on 2008-02-06 09:43:08.

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