Area planning – working together on shared priorities

Following the area planning update in the last CVS newsletter, the CCC Area Managers committed to doing an area by area update in each newsletter. We previously set out the basics of area planning and talked about partnership working being critical to developing our understanding of place and we are continuously seeking ways to enrich this understanding. The council often refers to area planning as an approach rather than a physical plan although it doesn’t prevent us from producing a plan if we see a need for this.

This article offers a short update on the area planning work taking place in some of the towns in Allerdale giving you the opportunity to get in contact and be involved.

What’s happening in Allerdale?
Cockermouth -The Allerdale area planning process started a couple of years back with the transfer of Cockermouth Library to the town council. The project included all three tiers of local government when the district council also became involved. It is no secret that the Cockermouth project was as a result of a set of circumstances but the excellent joint working delivered great outcomes for the town in that services are now all delivered under one roof, there is no detrimental impact on the library service, no services have been lost and savings were achieved.

Workington – As already mentioned area planning is an approach and varies both within districts and across districts. This joint working approach was used recently in Workington town centre. Workington has a population of 32,433 people and the ward of St Michaels within the town has a population of 4,784. Demographic features of this ward show that St. Michael’s is amongst the most deprived in terms of health, housing, crime and income. This is the type of data, along with local intelligence that we use to look at current demand and future needs as part of area planning. Some key indicators for this area that were considered were the health of the local population (Population with bad or very bad health in St Michaels is 7.4% compared other areas in Allerdale where this is zero), the average house prices in the area, crime and deprivation, see tables below. Note that St Johns and Moorclose are similarly deprived neighbouring areas but there are some stark differences.

Housing statistics:
                                             Median price of a property
St Michael’s                       £68,000
St John’s                            £110,625
Moorclose                          £166,500

Crime and community safety:
St Michael’s: total number of crimes: 1,060; violent and sexual offences: 402; anti-social behavior: 312
St John’s: total number of crimes: 837; violent and sexual offences: 315; anti-social behavior: 137
Moorclose: total number of crimes: 509; violent and sexual offences: 237; anti-socila behavior: 110

In addition, in St Michaels, 19% of children live in a low income family and this is nearly 200 children in households where out of work benefits are claimed.

In late 2018, local residents started to experience significant anti-social behaviour linked to alcohol and drugs. A joint partner approach was adopted to firstly understand the extent and causes of the problem and an event was organised through the local focus hub to help this. A number of actions have been developed to improve the situation in the short, medium and long term, understanding that the issues are complex.
Although all three tiers of local government were involved, there was recognition that the third sector played a key role and groups and organisations that were involved included CCC – Community services team, Bolton Street Community Hall, Cadas, Allerdale Borough Council, Age UK, Workington Town Council, Impact Housing, Community Mental Health Team, Health and Wellbeing Coaches, Community Learning and Skills, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, Cumbria Police, Active Cumbria and Cumbria Youth Alliance.

Actions in St Michaels…

  • St Michael’s Stories Engagement event (see photo)
  • Rogue Landlord funding received resulting in a ‘Rent with Confidence’ scheme run by Allerdale District Council
  • Data is being collated from service providers such as police, social care, NWAS, NHS, Housing to determine the resource going into this area
  • Clean up action days are currently being planned for the area in October with support from the local community, voluntary sector, community payback, police and fire cadets and statutory organisations
  • A conversation café is being held on 30th September 2019 in St Michael’s church by Cumbria County Council to determine how we can best support those with drug and alcohol problems
  • Plans are underway to have a drop-in facility to provide support, advice and guidance to vulnerable adults utilising the information gained at the conversation café

Aspatria – was identified as ‘ripe for area planning’ based on the concentration of service points in a small area. Although area planning is not driven by buildings, they are a consideration and this was the case in Aspatria. Not only are there a number of buildings in use, but the services provided are underused. An area planning approach has given us the opportunity to look at current and future demand, including trends. Aspatria has a population of 3,462 of which 762 are people over 65, of the 762 over 65’s, 275 live alone. There are some strong community groups and third sector organisations that operate in the town and as part of the planning, these have been engaged with to identify where changes would be beneficial. This will continue through the process as harnessing the local intelligence, capacity and enthusiasm of the third sector is key to the success of this project.

Actions in Aspatria…

  • Engagement with the town council
  • Engagement with CCC staff working in the area
  • Community day with health focus (Age UK, Sealey UK, Active Cumbria, Kooth & Qwell, Public Health Nurses, Community Learning & Skills, Cumbria Libraries, Allerdale Borough Council, West Cumbria Carers, Hospice at Home, Aspatria Town Council)
  • Drop-in at the library as part of wider ongoing public engagement

Closure of bookdrops…..
Although closure of services is never popular, the agreements put in place when they were established around usage and performance meant that the three bookdrops within Allerdale did not meet the criteria for continuing. Although this gave a mandate to just close them with short notice, the team in Allerdale engaged with the voluntary groups associated with them and through that approach were able to offer alternatives that the groups are content to work with. Working with the community groups has ensured that services in these villages remain largely unchanged to the end users.

Where will we be going next?
Area planning is a rolling programme of highlighting and seeking to achieve local opportunities. While the work described above will continue, we are also keen to work with Allerdale Borough Council on the regeneration of Maryport.

If you have suggestions for projects or idea for developments for any of the towns across Allerdale, we’d like to hear from you. You can contact the Allerdale Community Development Team:

Hayley Bishop:
T:01900 706013 M:07917534427

Heather Nixon:
T: 01900 706013 M:07825 272619