RESIDENTS are to be given the chance to take ownership of their own communities after the latest phase of Wigan Council’s pioneering Deal went live.
The authority’s officers from a variety of departments landed in Worsley Hall yesterday, to demonstrate the work that locals can do to help save council money and improve their estate. It included going on litter picks, pulling up weeds on pavements and helping older neighbours access services online.
They also joined volunteers to upgrade the area by filling in potholes, repairing kerbs, disposing of fly-tipping, replacing worn street plates, re-painting road markings and putting in flower planters.
Barry Longstaffe, a cleansing operative at the council, said: “We’re cleaning the area up and hopefully residents will see us and get involved.
“If they can stick to it and work together it will definitely work.”
Environmental officer Laura Fisher said: “We are promoting recycling, making sure they know what they are doing in terms of separating their waste. This keeps landfill down and so the more people recycle, the more money the council can save and keep council tax down.”
Ward councillors Mike Dewhurst and Maggie Skilling were delighted that Worsley Hall has become the first estate to be given help with The Deal.
Coun Dewhurst said: “I didn’t expect for Worsley Hall to be first, so this is fantastic, The council has never done anything as big as this before.
“I am hoping that as a result of this, people will become more friendly with each other as they get to know their neighbours.
“Hopefully the area will be made cleaner and tidier and even when the scheme is completed, we aim to carry this on.
“We have a lot of volunteers coming forward, and not just in Worsley Hall, but other parts of Douglas ward. This is just the first step.”
Coun Skilling said: “This will bring the community together and help people find pride in their area. This is great for community spirit.”
Resident Yvonne Elliott, 47, who lives in Greenwood Avenue, also agrees,
She said: “This is belting. It is nice to see something being done. It is definitely a good idea. I am sure it will get everyone out and involved and I am happy to push people to get people doing their bit.”
Worsley Hall was the first estate to receive the Deal In Action treatment, with other neighbourhoods – one a month - being supported throughout the year.
The council is aiming to take the Deal to every area of the borough to encourage its 320,000 residents to help take more care of their local area.
Due to the government’s austerity measures, Wigan Council has already saved £100m since 2010 and needs to save a further £30m of by 2017.
By working directly with the community, the council believes together it can transform the way it works and reduce demand on services to help avoid stopping services altogether.
As a reward the council has pledged to freeze council tax to help residents manage their own financial challenges.
Money will be saved in the medium to long-term by residents maintaining their area and reducing environmental maintenance which costs the council £3m a year, multi-skilling streetscene staff and residents becoming less reliant on council services through improved choices.