Westminster Council has launched an initiative “to give more control to residents” on the Churchill Gardens Estate but the chair of the Residents Association knows nothing about it.
According to the West End Extra;
“Sue Walsh who chairs the Churchill Gardens residents’ association said she had not been contacted about the scheme, adding “I just wonder where it leaves residents’ panels and area member panels”.
She said: “I think it’s the same dog with another name, it’s much of what we’re doing already but without the funding. Especially for things like anti-social behaviour, things for the kids, like the boxing club, we’ve got nothing and we’’re doing it all on a shoestring.”
The pilot scheme would devolve some local authority powers to a newly formed governing body in Churchill Gardens, Pimlico. It would be made up of local residents who would decide how best to tackle crime and how public funds are spent on the estate.
The “Churchill Gardens Community Pilot” hopes to make people “more responsible for their local community” and came at the same time as a £1million funding announcement from the Big Lottery Fund for residents in Churchill Gardens and nearby Peabody Avenue.
But the official council document says “there is no additional financial resources” to help the residents’ group “deliver services in a smarter, more efficient way”.
Instead volunteers would help residents access funds from Save the Children’s child poverty programme.
Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of Westminster Labour group, said the estate – where more than 50 per cent of children are classed as in poverty – needs more funds to tackle their problems.
He said: “Launching an initiative to improve life on one of the most deprived estates in Westminster with no extra money to help is an empty gesture and a cruel hoax on local people.
“There are huge problems on the Churchill Gardens estate and if the council is serious about making changes that improve life for local people then extra resources are need to provide more opportunities for young people and to tackle anti-social behaviour.”
The council hopes eventually to “hand the reins” to local people and expects them to be running their own estate by 2014.
Council leader Philippa Roe said: “Westminster Council’s new five-year vision is about improving the city we live in by encouraging local people and organisations to take more responsibility for their own community, and this is exactly what this new project will seek to achieve.
“I share local people’s increasing concerns about gang activity and street violence, and I believe local residents have a vital role to play in reaching a whole-community solution.”