New website launched to support devolution in West Berkshire
Communities can help shape local service delivery.
A new website giving communities across West Berkshire the chance to become more involved in delivering local services has been launched today.
West Berkshire Council has developed the new site to support town and parish councils wanting to do more to look after their community or take on playgrounds, woodlands and community buildings. The website provides all the information councils need to decide what additional services - such as grass cutting or path maintenance - they want to provide for their communities and the next steps to take.
A new Community Solutions Fund has also been created by West Berkshire Council and Greenham Common Trust which will provide grants up to £12,000 per project for town and parish councils to help them get started. A total of £400,000 is available to local communities available until 2019/20.
Speaking about the new website Councillor Marcus Franks, Executive Member for Community Resilience said: "As a council we provide a range of services in local communities but sometimes town and parish councils want to do more. Our new approach will allow those councils to provide an enhanced service for local people and complement the work we already do. We know people take pride in where they live and these new services will help those who want more done in their town or village than the district council can afford to do.
"This is an entirely voluntary scheme and will not replace the statutory services we have a duty to provide. At a time when we are working hard to live within our means we want to help our communities do more for themselves. With this in mind we've joined up with Greenham Common Trust to make £400,000 available to help communities get started. We're very grateful for their support and know it will help encourage town and parish councils to come forward."
Chris Boulton, Chief Executive of Greenham Common Trust added: "We're very pleased to support this initiative and through help communities across the district. The fund will provide small grants to help councils get up and running while they move to a more sustainable footing. Local people know what the priorities are for their communities and I hope the funding will encourage councils to come forward and take on services important to them."
Initially the new website helps town and parish councils be more involved in delivering grass cutting, trimming vegetation, cleaning road signs and taking on community assets. Further services will be added in the coming months. The website also includes:
Guidance on how to complete tasks safely and to the required standard
Advice about the tools and equipment needed for specific tasks
Information about insurance requirements
The new site also has a new forum for parish clerks to share ideas, seek advice and explore opportunities to join together to take on local services. The site has been developed in consultation with Burghfield Parish Council to ensure it meets town and parish council needs as well as those of West Berkshire Council.
Councillor Paul Lawrence from Burghfield Parish Council was involved, for example, in helping shape the new site. He said: "Burghfield Parish Council, recognised that the changes being forced on West Berkshire Council were inevitable and that the best way forward for Burghfield Parish Council and its residents was to find a positive way to work with the district council to achieve the best outcome for all parties. We welcomed and took the opportunity offered by the district council to start this conversation and we are pleased with the initial outcome of this portal and look forward to developing it further to meet its full potential in the coming weeks and years."
The new site can be found at http://parish.westberks.gov.uk.