Make our neighbourhoods even better places to call home
Our shared challenge
Where you live - your local neighbourhood - is central to your quality of life. Fortunately, in west Cheshire most people live in good neighbourhoods that benefit from good local facilities and a strong community. Our challenge is to ensure this is the case for all. For example:
- we have issues around housing affordability and homelessness that need to be addressed
- many residents are frustrated with the condition of local roads
- certain communities are affected by litter and fly tipping
- communities safety issues will always be a priority
- not all communities are active and often the Council can be viewed as remote
What our residents think
People's satisfaction with their local area as a place to live has remained consistent over the past few years, with around 81 per cent being satisfied. Alongside this though, the gap between how important residents feel all aspects of making somewhere a good place to live are, and how satisfied they are with them has widened, with road condition, pavement condition and clean and tidy streets being the top priorities for improvement.
Almost two-thirds of respondents agree with the Council's ideas on improving neighbourhoods, with particular support for strong partnership working with the Police to enhance community safety, making it easier to report issues and targeted action to clean up neighbourhoods. Discussions focused on bringing communities together through activities and facilities (particularly for young people), improving road safety in specific areas and keeping neighbourhoods clean and tidy. Housing was a notable area where there were differing views, with some calling for more low cost housing and others concerned that there is too much development.
Over three quarters of respondents agreed with proposals of what residents could do, particularly on taking pride in your community and helping keep it tidy and reporting issues in your neighbourhood.
Help organise activities where communities could get together, enabling them to socialise more and get to know the wider community.
Play Your Part respondent
What our partners think
Our health service partners have highlighted the importance of adequate housing being distributed across the borough to support the development of integrated models of community care. They also echo the fact that strong communities are essential in helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation.
What success will look like
- an increase in the number of affordable homes
- a reduced rate of homelessness
- improved satisfaction with road condition and cleanliness increases in volunteering
- increased engagement between residents and partners.
How the Council will play its part
We will deliver more affordable homes with a mix of tenures to meet a range of housing needs and will commit capital investment that will deliver 1,000 new homes. We will work with local community land trusts and explore alternative forms of construction such as self-build and modular housing. We will continue to support neighbourhood plans where requested to ensure that development is appropriate to the needs of the local community. Linked to our housing approach we will take action to reduce the number of empty homes and to improve standards in private rented housing. We also want to do more to tackle homelessness, with 105 people confirmed as homeless in the last year compared to 34 in 2010. We will take a partnership approach involving identifying those at risk at the earliest stage, more prevention across all agencies, supporting tenancies, introducing new intensive support for rough sleepers, and ensuring those that become homeless are returned as swiftly as possible to settled accommodation.
The Council owns over 150 buildings that are being used by communities. We have already started talking with communities on how we get the most out of these assets, how we can transform some facilities by moving to more combined uses and how we could transfer some of these assets to community groups and town and parish councils where this is feasible.
We want to continue our campaign to 'Love your Streets', encouraging residents to take pride in their neighbourhoods and to report any issues. The new targeted Streetcare service, known as SMART (Street Maintenance Action Response Team), will be able to respond more quickly to reported issues and has been temporarily funded on a trial basis. Permanent funding will allow us to continue and make the team permanent. Enforcement will continue to play a key role in tackling littering and fly tipping. Building on the new Public Space Protection Order for dog control orders, we will continue to empower communities for enforcement of dog fouling through delegation to town and parish councils, if they wish to do so. We will also deliver the second phase of our Streetcare pledge, allowing communities to apply for specific funding to finance projects that will improve the area where they live.
We will make it easier for residents to report issues like potholes, missed bin collections and fly tipping through the Council website and a mobile app. This will allow residents to check the status of their report on-line and give confidence that we are doing what we can to address any issues.
The Highways Service is delivered through a contract with a private provider with some in-house provision. As this contract comes to an end, it provides an opportunity to review the contract and ensure that the service is delivered in line with the needs of residents, drives continuous improvement and provides value for money. All options for the future delivery of this service will be considered, whether that be in-house, external provision or a combination.
Being and feeling safe in your neighbourhood is critical to your quality of life. Utilising our community safety teams, we will continue to support police and community support officers. We will also support the police to tackle serious and organised crime with a particular focus on those vulnerable residents who are criminally exploited.
Celebrating our culture and heritage brings people and communities together and makes our neighbourhoods distinctive. We will support Action Transport Theatre with their project to develop Whitby Hall in Ellesmere Port, and have committed funding for phase 1 of their plans. We will refresh our cultural strategy and look to develop a new heritage strategy for the borough, introduce a new Biennial Arts Festival, explore the further use of Chester Castle, work with the community to find a sustainable solution for Dee House, grow Cine-window: a shop window space in Winsford Cross Shopping Centre showing home-made and hand-made films that celebrate Winsford, invest in new library facilities for Northwich, and continue to support our Rural Arts Touring network. We have been awarded funding to develop plans for a high quality archives facility, and will also continue to make the case for funding for the delivery costs.
We are interested in exploring how technology can address issues in our major towns for example to help us monitor air pollution, tackle congestion and to provide free Wi-Fi on the high street. We also want to work with communities that are less confident with digital technology to ensure they are not excluded.
Cheshire West and Chester is a borough of contrasting landscapes - wooded river valleys and sandstone hills, meres and mosses, estuaries and heaths, industrial wastelands and old parklands - all set within a matrix of intensively productive farmland and urban development. We will consider our approach to supporting animals and bio-diversity within west Cheshire through developing a new Wildlife Strategy and a quality mark for animal welfare.
How residents can play their part
We want all of our residents to share their ideas on what we do and how we work. To find out what we're considering doing or for more information on how to get involved visit the Participate Now website.
Giving to others has been shown to be good for your wellbeing. It's also good for your local community, whether you support a vulnerable neighbour, join a litter pick or volunteer for a local group or sports club.
We're looking to make it easier for people to report the issues they have. The more that local people report things like pot holes, the more information we will have on what and where the priority issues are.
Report issues online
As a council we spend significant resources on cleaning up after people, whether that is people littering and fly tipping or irresponsible dog ownership. The more people take pride in their community, the more beautiful our communities will be.
Cheshire West and Chester Library Service has been recognised nationally for its significant transformation: with our new Chester City library integrated into a broader 'storytelling' organisation Storyhouse, investment in modern technology and a revitalised engagement and activity programme.
The Library Service comprises a borough-wide network of 22 libraries that works in partnerships, with groups and through activities for people of all ages, interests and backgrounds. Whilst maintaining a core offer of free resources including lending of books, eMagazines, eBooks and eAudio, free Wi-Fi and free access to computers at every site we also offer a diverse programme of activity including Rhymetime and storytelling for children; Coding Clubs; Autism and Dementia-friendly sessions; Reading groups for the visually-impaired; stories brought to life by musicians; Reading for Wellbeing collections; English conversation groups; Digital skills support; Family History and Ancestry sessions; Fun Palaces, bringing together the cultural skills of those in different communities to share with others; and a wealth of volunteering opportunities for people looking to increase skills, contribute to their community or rejoin or gain entry into the job market.
The transformed Library Service has contributed significantly to reducing isolation, improving health and wellbeing, increasing employment skills, celebrating diversity and promoting community cohesion. We continue to reach new audiences with more than 14,500 new members joining our libraries, more than 1.8m visiting (including Storyhouse), issuing more than 1.3m items and more than 4,900 children taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge in 2018/19.
West Cheshire Libraries
Investing in our priorities
We are planning to spend £53.6 million on neighbourhood services in 2020-21. This would be 4 per cent more than to the current budget for this area.
We will also invest £180.5 million of capital into this challenge area over the next four years, £48.9 million of which could be funded by the Council and £36.8 million from the Housing Revenue Account.
Who needs to be involved to make this happen?
Key services within the Council that contribute to this priority include:
- Community Safety
Supporting plans and strategies
- Local Plan
- Local Transport Plan
- Low Emissions Strategy