OXFORD City Council is trying to find a way to connect with residents of the Leys, after a recent meeting about the estate’s community plan attracted just three residents.
The meeting last week was supposed to be an opportunity for people who live on the estate to give their thoughts on what is needed for the area.
The plan will be built on working with residents and local groups to focus on several problem areas for the estate, including health and wellbeing, community safety, housing, the environment and education.
David Growcott is the council’s neighbourhood locality officer responsible for the Leys Community Plan. He said: “We need to increase engagement.
“It’s great that these people came along, but the fact we’re talking in single digits as a ‘successful’ leap for participation is an indication of how poorly we’re doing.”
Dena Hillis, from Sorrell Road, was one of the residents who attended the meeting. She said that – while there are a lot of projects aimed at children and the elderly – there is little for the working people of the estate.
She said: “People don’t know what’s going on, there are people who fall between age categories.
“I’m not a young person and I’m not elderly, and I don’t know what’s going on in my own community.
“You just don’t get to be part of it unless you come into one of those two categories.”
One suggestion to make it easier for people to get involved with community activities was to reintroduce community notice boards across the estate.
Kestrel Crescent resident Liz Helliwell said: “I hate the council surveys that come through my door. I just put them in the bin.
“There needs to be an easier way for people to talk about their problems and issues.”
Blackbird Leys’ Oxfordshire county councillor Val Smith said: “Information needs to be available all the time for people to know what’s going on.
“There used to be community notice boards which were vandalised, but we could bring them back to the Leys.”
There is a notice board of Leys Children’s Centre’s activities on Cuddesdon Way, but Mrs Smith said there should be ones the public can use for any kind of community notice.
She said: “It’s not where you go if you want to find out what’s going on.
“We need to do something at the Top Shops – the row of shops on Blackbird Leys Road – and make use of the fact that people do all of their shopping there.
“We need to find some way of letting people know what’s going on.
“There are some good trendy notice boards in Littlemore and Rose Hill. Maybe we should get ones like that.”
Oxford city councillor for Northfield Brook, Steve Curran, said: “People get information in different ways and we need to make sure we use all of those different ways.”
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