Bev's Big Local Blog

Money - spending the sensible way, and a bit of work with Brighton Uni in Hastings

posted by Bev Jenkins on Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:37

Ok, so confession time - I used to work as a commisioning manager for a health authority, then for primary care trusts. All good, decent jobs, long hours etc. etc. which I felt quite good about until I made the mistake of answering someone at a party when she asked me what I actually do. I explained my job title, the ways we work and identify need, how we work with other partner organisations and so on. Perhaps it was a little long for an explanation but after listening intently for twenty minutes or so my friend turned to me and said; 'Bev, that was so boring, never tell anyone that again'.

So, after sharing that ahem, learning, I can tell you that North East Hastings Big Local are developing their Procurement Policy. This is essentially the detail about how we actually purchase services, and goods. We're lucky to have expert help from Hastings Voluntary Action in drawing up our policy. We're not at a formal draft stage yet so I can't share it on the website though rest assured it will be up here as soon as it’s signed off. The key principles of the policy are making sure we don't make it too hard for new, and/or small voluntary sector groups to access money, but at the same time, making sure our money is going to reputable trusted organisations and that they deliver what they say they will. We're going to go for a tiered approach, which is a practical way to do it; whereby if a small grant might just be to pay for, say £60 in repairing a boiler in a community centre we'll check it’s spent on that, but will make it a simple process to apply for. However for larger amounts, we'd be looking in detail at how the planned service meets need, if it can be provided from a local organisation, and that all the necessary regulations and checks are in place. We'll also be looking to get the best quality services and goods we can.

We of course need to make sure the North East Hastings Big Local Procurement Policy fits in to support local organisations, and work well with our 'locally trusted organisation' - Orbit's policies.

I know this kind of detail isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it is important work to get right, and I for one am pleased we're well on our way with this.

Now for more exciting news - we welcomed two representatives from the University of Brighton to our Resident Led Partnership Board this week. They'll be working with us as observers and advisers and will be helping us both research and evaluate our work and access research to help us in our work. A first project we might work together on could be media students interviewing local people year on year in our area to see what impact Big Local has over the ten year period.

We're also planning a Big Easter Event at the Ore Centre - on Saturday 4 April. It will be a real family day and we're hoping to have a Easter hat/bonnet parade, face painting and much more. I'm wondering whether we could invent a craft based minecraft activity for our more techie youngsters, I'd love to hear any thoughts on that. We'd also love volunteers to help on the day, so please do email Jan Papworth via if you can get involved in any way.

Big Local Blog 2 (10th November)


Will we ever be able to do some cycling, buggy pushing, wheelchair travelling and walking to town without the killer hills?


It’s been another month, another Big Local North East Hastings meeting. The November meeting was busy, full of residents, partner organisations and two big presentations. We heard from Hastings Building Stronger Bridges, a great new project aimed at helping individuals and groups get involved helping their neighbours, and get help if they needed it – more on this at a later date but details can be found on Facebook and at Rother Voluntary Action.


However, the highlight of the meeting for me was thinking about the new Greenway proposed to be built through the Ore Valley. This would be a gradient controlled (in other words not too steep) pathway linking up East Hastings to the town centre. It will be designed to be used for cycles, buggies, disability scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and everyone else not in a motorbike or car. There are some fantastic examples of Greenway projects across the country, which enable people to get from one place to another without a car in a safe environment. They are also used just for leisure purposes, so for example people could easily get in to the woods, or to green areas. I’ve been lucky enough to use a Greenway down in North Devon before, which is part of the Tarka Trail just for a lovely walk, and a scoot for the children on their scooters.


In our area the route would likely go from Hastings Academy, down to Ore Village, through Speckled Wood and then via Ore Station and finally to the Town Centre. Key parts of the route are essential to making it easier for people to get about – for example one early piece of work would be making a clear path from the Broomgrove Estate via the Adventure Playground down to Ore station. This would make the journey to the station much more straight forward and quicker to use. It would of course, open up employment opportunities for local residents too – enabling them to get freely and safely to and from industrial estates, the station, the shops and schools/colleges.


The group voted to give a grant of £10,000 to Ore Community Land Trust, with the majority of the money going to Sustrans, the leading charity and experts in developing Greenways. This grant will enable a detailed plan for the Ore Valley Greenway to be drawn up, including all the environmental assessments. The work will also include design, costings of the work, and assessment of need plus community consultations.


Actually building the Greenway will of course, take a lot more money – we’re confident however that with the £6 million pounds allocated to Hastings and St Leonards (although not available until 2018 unfortunately) to develop the total Greenway networks across the town, and some additional money, including from new developers, that there will be no reason that if the Greenway can be built, and local people are in support it will be built.


It is a really inspirational idea that we can have a lovely route across the Ore valley, and down in to the town, and that it will actually be usable for those reluctant cyclists like me who just can’t take the cycling up the hills, and frankly are terrified of cycling down them.


There have been some worries that the route will be safe. Part of this safety will be ensuring it is well lit, undergrowth well cut back and so on. For me, the main safety issue will be its use. We’ll need to make sure it is well used and publicised. Possibly we could call it the Badger trail, and even encourage tourists up here in to the Ore Valley to see the lovely garden destroyers’ wildlife. What do you think? Would you like a local Greenway? The project will be looking for all your views, so please feel free to comment on this post, or get thinking in readiness for the local consultation next year.

Whilst researching this post I came across this really interesting project up in London, and I just thought I’d share here; Community-led street design, Turnpike Lane, Haringey | Sustrans


Bev Jenkins, 10 November 2014, blog post 2

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