Residents in South Ribble are going to be given more opportunities to volunteer in order to help make the borough a better place to live.
South Ribble Council has unveiled a new volunteering strategy designed both to support services and give locals a greater role in shaping them.
A meeting of the full council heard that the authority already benefited from the efforts of residents, staff and councillors via the ‘friends groups’ of local parks and the dozens of volunteers who help run the borough’s museum and help out at annual events.
A document presented to members revealed that the biggest barriers to volunteering were existing demands on people’s time and a lack of awareness about work in which they could get involved.
But cabinet member for assets, Colin Clark, said the enthusiasm of residents should not be underestimated.
“There are people out there who would like to volunteer. They don’t want to lead or co-ordinate - but they want to take part to make this borough a better place,” Cllr Clark said.
“It’s important to promote [the opportunities] and the intention of this council is to be more proactive.”
The policy was approved at a meeting of the full council, which also supported a wider community strategy laying out a vision of the area over the next five years.
It is built on the concept of ‘big and small’, which will see the council attempting to influence the work of organisations which have an effect on life in the borough - from regional public sector bodies to local community groups.
The South Ribble Partnership claims to have brought together public and private sector organisations with an aim to “radically reshape” services in the face of limited resources and rising demand.
Contributing to the document, Citizens Advice commented that it showed no single organisation has “the ability to be the best solution in every situation”.
The partnership emphasises the need for better connected communities and to make South Ribble “a brand” that is known beyond its borders as more than just an administrative body. There is also to be a focus on more shared service delivery across organisational boundaries.
Deputy leader of the Conservative-run authority, Caroline Moon said there was a lot of “excitement” amongst organisations about the potential of the partnership.
Cabinet member for regeneration, Phil Smith, added that an accompanying residents survey confirmed that “what we are doing...is what the public want”.
Deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, Mick Titherington, welcomed the report, but warned of the need to end the “polarisation of debate” in public life and the tendency of the ruling party to dismiss anything which the opposition suggested as “rubbish”.
OUR SURVEY SAID…
Out of more than a thousand responses to a survey for the South Ribble Partnership, the most liked aspect of life in the borough (by 35 percent of respondents) was “good transport links”. And yet the most disliked (by 30 percent) was “traffic congestion”.
The borough’s parks and open spaces were also praised (26 percent), while a greater police presence was requested by almost a fifth of respondents - a rate which increased significantly in the Bamber Bridge, Walton-le-Dale, and Farington areas.
Residents in Buckshaw Village were far more likely to complain about problems accessing medical services (9 percent) compared to the rest of the borough (1 percent).