Safer & Stronger groups could be axed by South Glos

October 31 2014

A GROUP set up to give residents influence over decisions made by the council and police could be axed.

A GROUP set up to give residents influence over decisions made by the council and police could be axed.

South Gloucestershire Council operates 20 Safer Stronger community groups throughout the district.

Each group, including one for Downend, Bromley Heath and Emersons Green and one for Staple Hill, Rodway and Mangotsfield, meets four times a year and enables residents to meet with representatives from the police, council, town and parish councils and other organisations.

The council says the groups “give local people a greater voice and influence over local decisions and the priorities of service providers”.

Issues discussed include safety concerns, parking problems, vandalism, graffiti and dog fouling.

But now the authority is putting forward proposals which could threaten the future of the groups as part of a bid to make £43million of savings by the end of 2014/15. A further £36million has to be saved by 2019/20.

Other schemes under threat include Priority Neighbourhoods where resources are focussed in areas of specific need, including Staple Hill and Kingswood.

The schemes are operated by the council’s community engagement team. The team’s annual budget is currently £291,250 but proposals put forward will see this reduced by 69 per cent to just £91,250 in order to save £200,000.

This would mean staffing levels would have to be reduced from 6.9 full time members of staff to just two.

The authority has put forward options for the future of the Safer Stronger groups and is asking residents to comment on them.

These include:

• Ceasing all funding. This would save £115,227 

• Identifying alternative organisations who would support the administration of the groups

• Reducing the level of support provided by the team, including reviewing groups boundaries, meeting frequency and venues

• Concentrating remaining staffing levels on the Safer Stronger groups at the expense of the other schemes

There is also an option of protecting these services and finding funding from other areas.

Ceasing funding for the Priority Neighbourhoods would save £121,157 but there are options which would see support reduced and therefore less savings made. There is also the possibility these neighbourhoods could receive funding and grants from external sources.

People can view the proposals in full by visiting the review of community engagement which can be found under the consultation section of the council’s website. It will also tell you the various ways you can have your say. 

The consultation ends on November 30.