Charity helps North Kesteven clean up
Councillor Marion Brighton, Leader of North Kesteven District Council in Lincolnshire on how partnership with a social enterprise has helped tackle rural grot spots.
As Conservatives in North Kesteven, we believe in assisting young people whose future prospects do not look good, but which can be considerably improved by initiating schemes whereby useful, gainful employment is encouraged and assisted and whereby the youngster can hopefully acquire self respect for the work they are undertaking.
"In addition, the WatchNK initiative helps to meet the demands and
expectations of all residents. Therefore, the two elements provide a
unique opportunity to work with a social enterprise, helping young
people acquire new skills, which will benefit them in future years and,
in doing so, allows us, as a Council, to keep our streets and open
spaces clean and tidy at a very competitive price."
Maintaining and enhancing clean streets and open spaces is no easy task when talking about a rural district covering 356 square miles. At North Kesteven District Council we know that this is an issue that is important to our residents. However, a pioneering partnership with a charity now allows the District Council to provide a proactive and highly effective service – WatchNK.
Hill Holt Wood is an environmental social enterprise providing diverse, environmentally-based products and services. It also delivers education, training and employment preparation to disadvantaged young people, including excluded schoolchildren and young offenders.
This innovative approach greatly enhances the Council's countryside service by providing additional resources to create a District-wide team of uniformed Rangers that tackle:
Reporting of suspicious activity;
Liaison with Community Police Teams;
Footpath grass cutting;
Maintenance and repairs;
Conservation volunteers; and
Conservation and village regeneration projects.
Through Hill Holt Wood, WatchNK employs a number of environmental rangers working throughout North Kesteven, each of whom is supported by disadvantaged young people.
This brings many benefits to the communities and residents of North Kesteven. The WatchNK Rangers are trained in enforcement by the Police and the Council and provide a network of eyes and ears that helps to alleviate the fear of crime for residents. North Kesteven is one of the safest districts in the country but in common with other areas, the fear of crime is disproportionately high.
WatchNK gives real value for money: each paid employee of Hill Holt Wood has an additional pair of hands in the form of a young person who is being trained. This effectively doubles the manpower available.
It maintains a high-quality network of well-signed footpaths and also provides an efficient and effective response to fly tipping, litter and abandoned vehicles.
Parishes are also encouraged to form their own relationships with WatchNK and Hill Holt Wood to undertake conservation and other environmental projects at cost-effective rates.
This innovative and successful project has assisted with the development of a more extensive countryside strategy that recognises the provisions of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
More people have become more active, more often. The well maintained network of footpaths encourages this.
More people have also become actively involved, on a volunteer basis, with the management of public spaces and the Pilot Junior Ranger project has engaged young people in environmental and conservation projects in local public spaces.
In 2007, the District Council launched its Parish Partnership Project which brings groups of parishes together in clusters to allow the sharing of best practice and financial economies.
Hill Holt Wood has attended the Parish Cluster meetings to promote the WatchNK service and many of the parishes have independently taken advantage of the services provided.
WatchNK has been a huge success for the communities of North Kesteven and continues to build on that success.