New £500k Community Fund concerns raised by residents

As a Parish we have been contacted by a number of residents regarding some of the comments made in relation to the announcement of the £500,000.00 New Community Fund.

We welcome this funding but have concerns about its background and its proposed spending proposals. We would like to make it clear that at no point have we been contacted for consultation for the allocation or spending of this fund.

We are a cross-party Parish Council and are therefore not politically driven in our representation of residents and we represent ALL residents not particular groups. This is important in that it is fair to ALL sectors of our Community.

Lawley is not a new community, it is a new development built alongside existing communities that are all entitled to the same benefits as Stewardship (BVT) charge payers. There are also many other ‘management companies’ across Lawley that residents pay a charge to: Trinity Management, Pinnacle Management, Jones Lang Lasalle PLC, Holwood Ltd to name but a few, and in addition there are residents that don’t pay an additional management charge to anyone other than TWC for Council Tax.

ALL Lawley residents need to be consulted on what they want to see improved/added for the area they live in not just BVT Stewardship residents.

We have been asked about some of the proposed expenditure posted and residents may benefit from some background information:

Community Hub

The Lawley development originally showed a dedicated stand-alone Community facility which over time changed to become integrated into the new Lawley Academy. Planning permission was granted for full daytime/evening use by the community, but at this time there is no ‘community use agreement’ in place as the terms cannot be agreed. This has been, and still is a ‘battle’ we are fighting as monies from the developers were given for a community facility that was allocated to the new school. Whilst we accept that there is some usage at the school to assist the community, it is limited due to apparent safeguarding issues due the design implementation of the building. Both issues can be addressed by enforcement of planning conditions or other options negotiated.

Lawley Square

Improvements to Lawley Square – this is privately owned, under the ownership of 6 landlords. There will always be 5 private landlords even when a small part of the square is adopted by the Council. The bollards were those as agreed by TWC Planning Department and the damaged ones will be replaced by the developers prior to adoption by the Council.

Verges

The verges/green spaces to be protected will not all be the responsibility of the Council, some will go to BVT and some may remain with developers/HE – the adoption process is in progress and the one verge, by Ashukaa that has been an major area of concern for residents, is already earmarked for planned works by the Developers to be made into a hard standing surface with bollards to stop the parking that causes problems and leaves the area a mess.

Gateway signage

Welcome to Lawley signs – this has been a point of discussion by the Parish with TWC & LVCA and we were advised by TWC that “Highways will not allow signage at the side of the road unless they deem it is specifically required to direct traffic, and Parish Gateway signage does not fit into this category.”

Replacement trees

The Parish has been in discussion with TWC and the Developer group in relation to this ‘dead trees issue’ for over 14 months. It should be noted that the Developers paid TWC for the trees and have also paid a commuted sum for their maintenance. It is obvious that there has been an issue with the trees, and we were advised by TWC that they will be replaced but that at the current time there was no funding for this.

Stewardship charges

Residents who do not pay the BVT charge but do pay a management fee have asked “What about the other management companies and their residents – will a freeze be negotiated with them? Why just work with one Stewardship company? No consultation with other stakeholders. This question does need to be addressed. This Community money is not about Stewardship or its governance, that is completely separate, it’s about utilising the money to be spent in the interests of the wider Lawley community and ALL its residents.

Lawley streets

We are contacted regularly about unfinished areas of the development and infrastructure. We appreciate that there are issues with some areas, and we challenge Developers/TWC/BVT regularly on these matters and need the support of Senior Members of TWC to ensure accountability and enforcement of conditions attached to planning applications. We are working with developers and TWC for these actions as part of the process and should not be separately funded.

Dedicated officer

Residents have commented that if they are only just appointing someone to look after Lawley then it’s no wonder that nothing currently gets done. The Parish Council take very seriously their involvement in the Steering Group and regularly challenge all stakeholders in relation to our and residents’ concerns. There are already a number of paid staff from all parties undertaking this role. Progress is slow but it is getting there.

Resident led Fund

Any Community Fund should not have any political influence or for it to be used as such.  The point made by residents that despite the statement that the LVCA group is non-political that it states in the Labour election literature that the partnership (who are the other partners?) will be led by Labour Councillors – Which statement is true? No other party Ward Members or Councillors have been consulted and we know from comments received that ALL residents have not been asked about this. Residents have asked who decided the list of improvements/proposals? Was it the ‘partnership’ that we don’t know who the partners are? We are unable to answer that question as we haven’t been involved to date in any consultations.

The Parish area is not just Lawley and we have a duty to represent ALL residents across the Parish and in the case of this Community money we, as a Parish Council, need to ensure that any public consultation involves ALL Lawley residents and the Parish Council whose Members are elected to serve ALL residents not just those under BVT Stewardship.

If you have any comments/questions/concerns, please contact clerk@lawleyoverdale.org.uk