We've had a huge amount of success over the last quarter that you may have seen on social media; particularly with Severn Trent and the Commonwealth Games funding. Below we share a little more with our members about our journeys to success.
Success with Severn Trent:
Over the last year, we have been advocating for greater engagement from Severn Trent to live up to their image of being a community-friendly and ecologically minded company. We were unhappy that they had installed obstructions to a few local footpaths and were not open to permitting a permissive pathway through their field from Merritts Hill to help people avoid walking down Frankley Lane. We realised several other groups in the area were also having issues with Severn Trent including members of the Ley Hill Community (obstructions to pathways), Friends of Senneleys Park (sewerage in brook), and St Leonard’s Church congregation (damage to their gate, wall, and lamppost and an obstruction to a pathway). We collaborated to send a formal complaint to the CEO, with Bartley Green District History Group, and the Bartley Green Community Facebook Page Creator also supporting our complaint. The CEO Liv Garfield, immediately responded and one of their management team investigated our complaint. They have now agreed to address everything we requested and even gone further agreeing to:
replace the iron gate at Genners Lane with a Motability accessible kissing gate (gate not measured and ordered).
a new entrance at Merritt's Hill and permissive pathway through their field to the reservoir's edge, to help people avoid walking down Frankley Lane and access the circular route around the reservoir's perimeter.
their Ecology Team will now work with Friends of Bartley Reservoir to improve the habitat and eco-diversity of the field.
remove the green fencing at Ley Hill Village Green/Nutbush Drive and replace it with a Motability accessible kissing gate (gates now measured and ordered).
to remove the incorrect 'No Public Right of Way' signage at Waterworks Drive and cut back the hedge to reveal the kissing gate (sign removed; hedge to be cut back after nesting season).
repair the damage caused by a contractor to the wall, gate, and lamppost at St Leonard's Church (surveyed and being progressed).
install a new fence and gate at the junction of Scotland Lane/Frankley Lane so people are guided to cross and enter at the safest point.
All this represents the benefit of working with others, and how we can achieve more together rather than in isolation. We are over the moon with the results and see this as a new start in our relationship with Severn Trent who, with the passing of the land to their Ecological Team, are now focused on engagement with Friends of Bartley Reservoir to the benefit of nature and the community. A huge step towards our vision of a more accessible and connected reservoir.
Success with the commonwealth Games Funding:
Very soon our city will erupt with a celebration of culture, sport, and unity. Vibrant and diverse, Birmingham will flourish on the world stage, reflecting on the strength and resilience of the people that make these neighbourhoods and communities truly great. The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games provides a platform to showcase the very best of the people who make our city the beating heart of this great country.
Celebrating Communities is a £2 million small grants funding scheme, part of a wider £6 million package assembled by the council to maximise the benefit and legacy of hosting the Games. Grants were available to run initiatives that deliver against one of three themes: ‘Getting Active’, ‘Ready, Steady, Fun’, and ‘Celebrating Culture’. We submitted against the ‘Ready, steady, fun’ criteria - delivering community projects to ensure a local area is Games ready (e.g. by improving communal space, and hosting community celebrations to develop active citizenship and reduce loneliness and social isolation).
It was a long process. First, the application had to be drafted in line with the criteria set out. Then there were discussions back and forth between FOBR and the people supervising the grant applications. Our application was rejected in the first round with some advise fedback to improve it. We made a second application in the second and final round of funding where we got through the first stage and were asked to present our bid at a Ward meeting. That was an interesting evening! Unfortunately, we met some opposition from people who did not feel that benches nor signposts were needed at Bartley Reservoir, even though there was sufficient funding in our local pot to cover all the other applications as well as ours.
We felt the reasoning for refusing our bid was unfair and we again contacted the people who supervise the allocation of grant money. They invited us to make a further presentation to a 'back-stop panel' for wards where there were unsuccessful grant applications like ours but money remaining. This panel was made up of Birmingham residents who had experience in both applying for and awarding grants. They thought what we were trying to do was wonderful, and we were duly awarded the grant money; £15,000 of Commonwealth Games Community Grants for our ‘Talking Benches’ and ‘Guided Walk’ projects.
The Talking Benches Project funding will allow us to install five benches along Bartley Meadows - between the top of Scotland Lane and the Sailing Club. We believe that this will support more people to enjoy the area who are perhaps less able or with young children, or who just want to take a leisurely stroll and take a breather as they enjoy the view and explore the reservoir at their own pace. The second part of the project is hosting an event towards the end of August (date to be confirmed) where we have a volunteer on each bench speaking to the public about a Commonwealth Games related topic. We hope local people will enjoy the social interaction and engagement, and enjoy learn about the Commonwealth Games right here on the edge of the host city.
The Guided Walk event also consist of two parts. Firstly the installation of fingerposts signs that will be placed on Genners Lane near the Sailing Club, the Picnic Area, and on Scotland Lane; top, middle (outside woods) and the bottom. We want these to encourage people to explore the reservoir and 'give them permission' to do so. The second part an event where will be a reservoir walk led by a guide following the signposts that will be put in place using the funding we have been awarded. The tour will start at the Sailing Club and finish at St Leonard’s Church. On the way, again different aspects of the Commonwealth Games/Commonwealth will be talked about together with some history of the land around the reservoir, ending with coffee and cake in St Leonard's Church Hall.
Look out for event dates towards the end of August/Early September on our facebook page.