Street Associations win national recognition

Buckinghamshire Street Associations win national recognition

 

A good neighbour scheme that tackles loneliness, social isolation and doorstep crime across Buckinghamshire, has won national acclaim.

Buckinghamshire County Council’s Street Associations scheme was named as one of nine leading community projects at the prestigious Local Government Chronicle Awards, presented by broadcaster Hugh Dennis at London’s Grosvenor House.

The scheme aims to recruit people in every road and provide them with resources and free workshops to heighten awareness of issues such as doorstep crime, scams, dementia awareness and domestic abuse, to increase the wellbeing and safety of the community.

A delighted Noel Brown, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health, said that being a national finalist was tribute to the commitment of almost 300 residents who have become actively involved in six pilot Street Associations across the county, and to the untiring work of Helen Cavill, who leads the project.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of residents who have become involved in these six Street Association pilots,” said Noel. “The success is down to their commitment to restore community spirit: making their communities places where neighbours look out for each other, and where those who are vulnerable feel safe.”

The six pilots – in Hughenden, Aylesbury, Princes Risborough, Chesham and Burnham –  have been going for more than 18 months, set up and run solely by neighbours, with pump priming from the County Council.  Now another 13 communities have asked for information about how to start a Street Association.

Helen Cavill, Street Associations’ Project Lead, said during the past 18 months 200 streets had become involved in the six pilot schemes, and 225 residents had received  awareness training in doorstep crime, scams, domestic abuse and the effects of dementia. Encouragingly, she said, 75 local businesses had given their backing.

“Apart from the 13 communities that have shown interest, we’ve had enquiries from two other county councils, which is great news for the cause of good neighbourliness,” she said.

Since the pilots launched there has been on average a 40% increase in the number of referrals to the County Council’s preventative services, where Street Association members have identified vulnerable people who need extra support, and who might have slipped under the radar.

Also, members have made 30 referrals to the Trading Standards team about doorstep and general scams, which would not normally have been expected.

Helen said it was easy to start a Street Association: with one simple information pack, a desire to know your neighbours are safe and well, and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.

People wanting to start a Street Association in their community can ask Helen for a starter pack, which comes with signposting materials: a directory of local organisations and the authorities they are most likely to get help from, tips on organising community get-togethers, plus guidance on trouble signs to watch for.

Noel Brown said: “This is such a simple ‘win-win’ formula. By tackling the problem of social isolation, rediscovering the culture of neighbourliness, we’re making it much easier to reduce doorstep crime.”

How to start a Street Association: https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/community/helping-your-community/street-associations/ 

Street Lights

Lighting our way by night – the Bucks Street Lighting Team

 

Transport for Buckinghamshire’s (TfB) Street Lighting Team looks after the 29,000 streetlights and 6,000 illuminated bollards we rely on across the county to illuminate our roads and pathways by night.

This is an update on their current work.

 

LED Replacement Programme

 

Over the course of 2018/19, the Street Lighting Team has been replacing 3,295 ‘old style’ lanterns with LED equipment. These old style lanterns have an orange light, whilst the new lanterns produce a white light. The programme will be complete by the end of March 2019.

 

However, a small number of the old style lanterns will temporarily remain due to issues such as the need for the entire column to be changed or the column base being sited on private land.

 

In addition to this, the team has also completely replaced 344 lanterns which were mounted on wooden electricity poles.

 

Night Scouting

 

Whilst you can report street lights that are damaged or broken on Fix My Street, TfB also has a Night Scouting programme. Members of the Street Lighting Team check for outages along the strategic routes across the county, making note of lights that need any work doing to them. Six routes are covered over a three month period, and the scouting occurs on a quarterly basis.

 

However, if you do spot a damaged or broken street light, please do report it using Fix My Street (https://www.fixmystreet.buckscc.gov.uk/).

Use the search bar to find the road the street light is on, use the marker to pinpoint the area it is in and select the number of the street light that you are reporting. This should be used for faults that do not present an immediate risk, for example, street lights that aren’t working. In an emergency, please call 01296 382416 to report.

 

Solar-powered bollards

 

TfB’s Street Lighting Team has been working with manufacturing partners NAL Ltd and Traffic Management Products (TMP) to roll out a new and innovative bollard programme across the county, and have installed over 100 bollards to date. These new bollards are solar powered and have a number of benefits, including reduced energy costs and no need of underground cables, meaning they cannot be affected by power outages or damaged cables.

 

Another advantage of these new bollards is that they are also easier to repair – the solar powered bollards use socket mounted equipment. Currently, if a bollard is damaged or broken, it can be complicated to repair or replace as there has to be traffic management, sometimes even a road closure. However, if one of the new style bollards is damaged or needs replacing, the equipment can be changed quickly and easily. It also removes the possibility of live wires being exposed in the event of a road traffic collision.

 

Sometimes the problem lies with the electricity supplier

 

Sometimes members of the public report failed lights to us that have stopped working due to an underground electricity supply fault. If this is the case, TfB is not able to repair the fault, because the cables are owned and maintained by the electricity companies for the area, and only they are allowed to carry out repairs to their networks.

 

TfB works closely with the three electricity companies who have equipment within the county to resolve these issues when they’re discovered, but the repairs can take some time and be complex in nature. This is why there can sometimes be a delay in repairing a reported failed light.

 

Whose light is it?

 

The County Council are not the only ones who maintain lights within the county. Some are maintained by parish and town councils, district councils, or housing associations, and others are on privately-maintained roads. In those cases TfB will advise who can help with repairs.

Only County Council lights currently appear on the Fix My Street website – if there is no light option available on the map for the location that you are trying to report, then the light will not be ours. However, we are working with the other organisations to allow us to show their assets on our map, so that the system will then tell you who owns or maintains the light if it is not ours.

Note however that you cannot report failed lights that are privately owned, for example in gardens, on driveways or lighting commercial premises. You’ll need to contact the landowner.

Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw said:

 

“The Street Lighting Team has been working incredibly hard on several programmes which will be so beneficial to the county when they’re complete. I understand the public’s frustration when it comes to broken lights but we work very closely with the electricity companies to make sure any issues can be resolved as soon as possible. I’m impressed with the work I’ve seen from the Street Lighting Team in the last year and know the public will reap the benefits of this.”

 

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