Your street needs you! Cash-strapped Norwich City Council looks to recruit volunteer street champions

Street champions could help organise litter picks.

Street champions could help organise litter picks. - Credit: Archant © 2006

Cash-strapped council leaders are set to recruit a network of volunteers to become 'street champions' to spread a 'love where you live' message to the people of Norwich.

City Hall leaders are looking to enlist, train and support a team of street champions, to encourage people to take greater ownership of where they live - and ease pressure on limited council resources.

Drawing on a scheme which has been running in London, the idea is the street champions will organise or enable community activities in their streets or neighbourhood.

That could include organising litter picking, arranging street parties, creating community gardens and helping older neighbours. The council says that would help build new relationships and foster community links.

And, Keith Driver, the city council's cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said it would also help save money, with City Hall needing to make 'significant savings' by 2020/21.

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Officers have visited Lambeth Council to see its street champion project, launched last year. And councillors are keen for Norwich to follow suit.

Mr Driver said: 'This will set out to encourage residents to take greater ownership of the areas where they live and rely less on the council to deliver services, allowing us to focus on those most in need.'

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The council, which already employs neighbourhood wardens, is also planning a 'not on our streets' programme of education - focusing on issues such as fly-tipping and dog fouling.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, acknowledged criticism could be levelled that the council is looking to get people to do its work for them.

But he said the current climate meant that sort of approach had to be explored. He said: 'There's less money around in the public sector and we need to look at what we can do to share costs, resources and expertise. What we need to do can't just be about budget reductions, but about what kind of city and council we want.

'The hugely successful Love Lambeth initiative has been a particular source of inspiration, so we're working on more detailed plans to start piloting a similar scheme on a small scale next year.

'While the exact nature of the project is still to be finalised, our goal is to get as many people as possible active and involved at a local level for the benefit of the wider city community.'

The idea was backed by Emily Nudd, from Trafford Road in Norwich, who has helped to organise street parties focused on her local pub - The Trafford Arms.

She said: 'If the council is offering to give support to people, that would be great. There are people who want to do things, but they need some help to drive it.

'And instead of spending so much money on events like the Lord Mayor's Procession, maybe they could help people who want to do things such as litter picks and graffiti cleans.'

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