Sue Severn and Noreen Shardlow
Sue Severn and Noreen Shardlow were invited to give a presentation to Members outlining the Watermead Walkway project and the wider work they had undertaken during the pandemic.
Sue explained to Members that leisure facility closures due to Covid-19 had caused a higher number of visitors to Watermead, which had generated a litter problem. Watermead Parish Council had spent £8000 on Litter removal, £1500 cleaning up after visitor’s dogs.
Higher visitor numbers had also caused Public pathways to become damaged and eroded away. Sue explained that repairing and restoring the footpaths to their original state could cost £100,000. It was hoped that the Community Board could help in the future with this project, either with funding towards the cost of repairs, signposting to appropriate local services or partners who could help, or spreading the word to those who may like to volunteer their help.
The Roman Park Community Trust had been established with Community Board Crisis Funding last March and cross Parish work had been done with Oving and Berryfields Parish Councils to pool resources and provide wide-ranging support to local residents. Anyone who could help the Roman Park Community Trust was encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01296 925750. Sue informed Members that they were in the process of becoming a registered charity. In addition, the Berryfield Buddies also launched to support people who were socially isolated during the pandemic or wanting to learn more about the local area if they were new. Talking benches were being installed to enable conversations outside when restrictions allowed, and a Wooden Pergola run by the Buddies in Watermead would be made available as a Covid-safe space for outdoor book clubs, concerts, gardening clubs, and talks.
Watermead Neighbourhood plan had begun in January, 2021. Sue informed Members that related questionnaires and the first-draft plan was ready and would be reviewed at end of March for submission to Buckinghamshire Council for comment in April. The plan would be a platform to address local business needs through the sourcing of land for future commercial development in partnership with the Prince’s Trust.
Peter Cooper informed Sue that a Buckinghamshire Council Select Committee had been held since Christmas to examine the Council’s Covid response and explore areas in which this could be improved in the future, including working with local charities and volunteer groups. The Select Committee’s report had been approved by Cabinet and Katrina would circulate this and any further details to Members following the meeting. Peter expressed his sincere hope that the aforementioned groups in Sue’s presentation would continue their work beyond the pandemic, as local volunteer groups and charities were identified as valuable partners in the development and delivery of Buckinghamshire Council services in an effective way for local communities. It was hoped that a future funding application concerning the litter and footpath issues would be submitted for consideration by Members at a future meeting of the Community Board.
Anne Wight expressed her appreciation of the talking benches project as a way to begin re-socialising with local people coming out of lockdown
Sue clarified for Members that the work of the Berryfield Buddies and Roman Park Community Trust had been done across multiple Community Board areas because their services applied to anyone needing help. This had proven an obstacle to secure funding from different Community Boards where it could not be guaranteed that all the funding would be used in that area. Peter Cooper said that discussions were being held to try to resolve these kinds of situations between Boards. Anne Wight added that there would need to be a degree of proportionality with regard to future cross-funding projects based on the number of residents in each area benefitting.