Making our neighbourhoods even better places to call home
Cheshire West Recycling
A new Council-owned waste collection organisation Cheshire West Recycling (CWR) launched at the start of the first lockdown and has been successfully collected and managed residents’ waste. CWR is a not-for-profit company based on co-operative principles.
Months of preparation during the winter meant CWR was able to launch seamlessly with the existing vehicles and staff despite the unprecedented challenges.
A51 improvement scheme
July 2020 saw initial preparation work begin for the £7.29 million A51 improvement scheme between the Vicars Cross and Tarvin roundabout junction. This scheme was focused ono reducing delays, congestion and promoting greener transport and improving air quality. New crossing points and improved footpaths for pedestrians, bus users and cyclists are also planned.
Securing Rural Mobility Fund
March 2021 saw £1.075m awarded from the Government’s Rural Mobility Fund for a three-year trial of an innovative public transport service for residents living in rural and suburban areas. Instead of a bus service along a fixed route, the trial will be based on a service with a flexible route that can go only where passengers are travelling to or from. These routes should be ‘crowd driven’ so there is a sustainable demand. Fares that reduce as more people travel is one of the opportunities to be tested, working towards greater 'crowd funding' for a sustainable service.
New cycling and walking infrastructure plan
Cheshire West and Chester Council's 'Walk. Ride. Thrive' Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) 2020-2030 was approved in July 2020. The plan identifies new walking and cycling routes through Chester, Ellesmere Port, Neston, Winsford, Northwich, Frodsham and Helsby.
In response to COVID-19, the Council and ForFutures (an organisation which supports those at risk of homelessness) mobilised their teams to meet the Government’s Everyone In request and provide immediate hotel accommodation.
Between 150 and 200 people were housed and provided with food in hotels every night for over 12 months. In September 2020, the Council successfully bid for Government funding to provide additional emergency accommodation for up to 30 people at the former day centre the Mulberry Centre. These initiatives have contributed to the recent low number of rough sleepers: our annual rough sleeping count, on 11 November 2020, found four rough sleepers, a reduction on the previous year when we found 14 and, the year before that, 17.
MARS (Multi Agency Rough Sleeping) project provides a multi-agency approach to support those individuals still living on the street. A person-centred action plan is developed for individuals to focus on the real reason they continue to be homeless, often significant mental health, childhood trauma or substance misuse issues rather than a housing issue.
We worked closely with our housing association partners to develop a process to speed up moves of people out of hotels through direct lets and secured over 150 successful lettings.
Response to flooding
In 2016 the Council worked with the Environment Agency to install the flood defences in Northwich town centre. Following further flooding incidents in February 2019 the Council worked with the Environment Agency, United Utilities and other risk management authorities to investigate the causes.
Several recommendations from the interim report had already been made, but further serious flooding occurred in January 2021. We provided 252 residents and 70 businesses with crucial support following the worst flood events ever experienced in the borough. This covered the initial emergency response, clear and regular dialogue with affected communities, and democratic involvement in our collective efforts to ensure the right measures are put in place to mitigate future risks. A Flood Risk Action Group (FRAG) was established to oversee the action being taken to prevent future flooding events in the borough and carry out all the recommended actions set out in the final Northwich Section 19 Investigation Report into the flooding of 2019.
Agreement to new Highways model to further improve performance
The Council maintains a road network of approximately 2,300 kilometres together with pavements, bridges, the City Walls in Chester, traffic lights, streetlights, trees, gullies, cycle routes and public rights of way.
In October 2012, the Council entered a contract with Ringway Infrastructure Services Limited to carry out maintenance operations on the road network. This contract will expire after its full 10-year term in October 2022. Following a consultation, the new preferred model involves using a technical partner, engaged via a procurement process, to carry out all large-scale schemes and specialist programmes such as surface treatments and resurfacing. In addition, a number of highway operations will be sourced in-house, including reactive/routine maintenance, gully/drainage cleansing, and winter services.
Housebuilding, affordable accommodation and social housing
Working with our housing association partners, a total of 337 new build affordable homes were completed (housing deemed affordable to those with lower household incomes) and 205 empty privately-owned homes were bought back into use.
Affordable housing can contribute to significant economic impacts including job creation and better land use.
In June 2020, Council completed its ambitious programme to build 230 new Council Homes in partnerships with Sanctuary, Galliford Try and Keepmoat. Sites included former Greyhound Stadium in Ellesmere Port and former Woodford Lodge school in Winsford. The final homes in Ellesmere Port were completed this year.
Tenant satisfaction levels continue to improve with an overall satisfaction rate of 96.14 per cent amongst tenants, which is more than 4 per cent higher than the rate in 2019/20.