This week’s Council of the Week is one that punches above its weight. It has been selected in recognition of its innovative approach to the problems and challenges that it has faced in recent years, for the way that it manages the huge amount that it takes on and for the successes that it has had.
Campbell Park Parish Council (CPPC) is directly south of Milton Keynes city centre and comprises of seven wards; five residential, one leisure and one retail.
The five residential wards are very different and together make for a parish of huge, huge diversity with each area requiring totally different things and with differing needs. For example, the Fishermead ward is a housing estate that presents lots of social challenges. It’s in the bottom 10% of areas with indices of deprivation. At 55%, it has the highest incidence of ethnicity in the city and has 45% ethnicity in its schools.
The social challenges have been growing over the past 10 to 12 years, following an incident caused by racial tensions in the Fishermead ward. In response, CPPC partnered with Milton Equality Council and put on a series of ‘Spotlights on Culture’ evenings; an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the range of nationalities, ethnicities, age groups and cultures that live side by side on the estate.
They also took on a Parish Community Safety Officer – the first ever to be placed in an English Parish.
Another example of CPPC’s innovative work can be found in neighbouring ward, Springfield, where the council has just completed the re-build of a dilapidated Community Centre.
This is a fantastic example of a parish instigating and benefiting from asset transfer, with CPPC paying just one pound to Milton Keynes City Council to take the run-down facility on. Following a £250,000 three-month make-over – £50,000 of that provided by landfill tax-distribution charity WREN – it has been valued by insurers at £620,000.
Having recently visited the centre myself, I have seen the result of this transformation first-hand and was most impressed. It is a state-of-the-art centre that will be a huge asset to the community and the parish going forwards.
With this work complete, CPCC now have two further projects in the pipe line:
They are in conversation with Sport England and the Premier League about building a Sports Hall to complement a derelict football field that they’ve also taken ownership of
They are about to start work on building a new Parish Headquarters with halls/rooms which will produce an income stream – replacing their office that is no longer fit for purpose
These are just a few examples of CPCC’s work in response to the challenges it faces. The council also completed a detailed parish appraisal five years ago which has informed its work since and has taken Milton Keynes Unitary Authority to a Judicial Review to retain one of its five wards and last year it won (together with Milton Keynes Council) a planning Inspectors Enquiry.
They also challenged Milton Keynes Parks Trust who planned to turn a linear park in to a Motocross site, causing considerable distress to residents. Milton Keynes Council have acknowledged they would not have won without the input and work of CPPC.
Finally, they are currently working on a Neighbourhood Plan, refreshing their five year business plan, developing an embryo Community Plan and working on a new Emergency plan.
This is one busy council and a fine example of a hard-working, forward thinking parish that leads the way for others with its resilience, innovation and tireless work to do the best by its residents.