Council of the Week: Bracknell Town Council
The town of Bracknell is rated as one of the best places to live, work and play in the country, with a new £200m town centre the Lexicon opening in Spring 2017, this trend is long to continue. The town was recently awarded the accolade of Town of the Year at an awards ceremony held within the Thames Valley.
Bracknell Town Council makes the top ten list of local councils by size, serving 56,000 residents with its £2.1m budget. The council is responsible for over 250 acres of space, which includes 32 parks. The council manages a range of services such as providing grants, preparing neighbourhood plans and environment wardens. The council also runs facilities such as football and rugby pitches, tennis courts and cricket squares. The council also manages eight allotment sites and a cemetery and maintains its own sites across the town, within which it installs and maintains most play equipment itself.
The council operates with around 35 members of staff, one of whom is Allan Moffat, the recreational facilities manager, he was a NALC Star Council 2015 winner for Council Worker of the Year. In January 2016 the council was awarded the Foundation Award in the Local Council Award Scheme (LCAS).
The council is notable in working collaboratively with others, including Bracknell Forest Councils and unitary authority on a number of local initiatives and projects. For example, it works with neighbouring local councils on its summer activities programme. Like many local councils, the council runs a large number of events through the year. For example, the council again ran a successful woodland activity day in April 2016 featuring a number of demonstrations of skills and activities. In the summer, activity days are run most weeks in different parks across the town. These attract large numbers of families. A particular favourite event is the annual teddy bears picnic. The council will also again be supporting the Bracknell Lions in running the Bracknell Show at our Wildridings playing fields in June 2016.
The Council has recently procured a design team for the construction of a new pavilion, with a budget of £1.7m, following a feasibility study undertaken last year. It has also recently completed the construction of refurbished tennis courts, for which there is now an online booking system, and card entry to the courts. This was launched this month, and is located at Jocks Lane Park, where the Council opened a splash pad last year. The council launched a new website at the end of 2015, which has further allowed the council to communicate to their community better.
Under the umbrella of Bracknell in Bloom, there has been continued growth in the Council’s successful ‘your gardens’ competition, with a number of categories now operating, including one for whole streets to enter themselves, and overall numbers participating have been greatly increasing over the last year.
At the end of last year, the Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare partnership received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to recognise outstanding work in the community. Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare is a six acre garden for the community, run in a partnership between Bracknell Town Council, Bracknell Forest Homes, Warfield Parish Council and Syngenta, with local groups and individuals growing fruit, vegetables, other plants, benefitting from the therapy of horticulture and enhancing bio-diversity.
The council’s two environment wardens have introduced a number of initiatives, including establishing a new community-fishing club in April this year, which has attracted funding from the Environment Agency.
Finally, the council provides well regarded and price competitive services to neighbouring town and parish councils, as well as nurseries, Bracknell Forest Council and to schools locally. The skills of the grounds maintenance team are increasingly in demand for grass cutting, play equipment assembly and in providing surfacing in particular, with the scale of this activity set to increase further in the coming months, alongside also working Bracknell Forest Council in responding to their need for service reductions.