Despite their distrust, local people were wary of challenging RMBC; the council’s own consultation event only had one attendee! Therefore, the area’s community organiser, Jess Clarke encouraged local mums to share their views and arranged another meeting where ten people put their concerns to the council – particularly the concerns of local parents. In addition, the organiser was able to feed back the concerns she was hearing on the street.
Local people raised worries about:
- Messages that the local school wasn’t full, while local children were having to attend schools a bus journey away
- Local school buses were unreliable, and children were often late
- There were not enough local post boxes
- Local people were already having to wait too long for GP appointments
- The local parks were unsafe, and local play areas not fit for use
- There was no community centre and nothing for children and young people to do
- The bin collection is poor and there is too much rubbish in the area
As a result of this initial meeting, this ad hocgroup of residents met again with local councillors and the school.
The councillor representing the local area began actively advocating for residents at local meetings. Work is underway to amend the planning application to reflect residents’ views and pressure the development company to refurbish the local park as part of the development. In addition, a small group has formed to work with the councillor to address the lack of provision for children and young people.
While residents still have little trust in RMBC, they have begun to realise that there are routes which will let them raise their concerns, and they can work together to try and change things themselves.
The original version of this story can be found on the Rotherham Federation (RotherFed) website.