What’s happened this month?

Prickwillow’s community film has been finished and shown to the community; twenty people turned out to view it (good for a small village) but perhaps more significantly sixteen stayed for the Village Council meeting afterwards (normal attendance: 4). The film prompted a good discussion after it was shown and this probably helped to retain Prickwillow residents for the following Council meeting. The Mayor of Ely also attended the Village Council meeting which he has been doing since the beginning of the Neighbourhood Challenge project. Ely City Council is Prickwillow’s Parish Council and they have been keen to develop their link with Prickwillow and saw the Neighbourhood Challenge project as an ideal opportunity todo so. The Mayor will be presenting the film to the City Council soon.

The winners of the Pidley Neighbourhood Challenge were announced: the Pidley Playground Group.

Photo and article courteousy of The Hunts Post

We also held a constructive meeting with the winners to help them develop their plans for the future with representatives from Pidley Parish Council, ACRE’s playground specialist, Young Lives and a neighbouring Parish Council who have recently installed a new play area.  Advice was given on funding, Parish Council responsibilities, equipment sourcing and consultation.  The unfortunate news is that the Village Hall Committee has not granted the Playground Group the use of the field next to the Village Hall but the group is determined to carry on, search out some new land and work with the Parish Council to make a new play area in Pidley a reality.

Other activities include:

  • Planning how we will incorporate the learning from this project into the new Cambridgeshire ACRE Community Led Planning Toolkit (which does involve some serious re-writing!)
  • Planning a training day for potential community reporters in Somersham.
  • Planning the Service Challenge Day in Somersham

What have we learnt this month?

  • The film showing in Prickwillow reinforces our opinion that community films are good engagement tools. Willing participation in making the film was low but interest in the outcome was high.
  • Our experiences in Pidley have provided a lot of learning. Volunteers in the established village groups have been contributing towards their community for years and are very sensitive about their achievements. They feel they have worked hard for the good of the community and resent criticism of their actions from others who are not active in village life. This is understandable. In this situation it is possible that new ideas/innovations are seen as implied criticism of themselves and their efforts. Residents wishing to try something new have a choice of either joining these established groups in order to work with them or work outside of them and face resistance. The standard answer to this dilemma is early engagement with the established groups but (as in the case of the Playground group) this is still no guarantee of positive support. Perhaps in instances like this the involvement of a neutral third party (such as ACRE) is beneficial to provide ongoing support for all and get conversations going.

What’s been challenging this month?

The meeting in Pidley had potential to be a difficult one with various different viewpoints present, however once everyone started talking it turned out to be more beneficial than we had anticipated.

What are you proud of this month?

  • Getting more Prickwillow residents talking about village issues.
  • Seeing some tangible results in Prickwillow as a result of our work; the village newsletter has started back up, the link with Ely City Council is strengthening and the Village Council is looking at ways of solving the ’one bus a week’ issue (they are considering asking Sainsbury’s in Ely to provide a bus route to their village once/twice a week.)
  • Being able to give recognition and support to  a real grass roots action group (Pidley Playground Group)

Pidley Playground group receiving confirmation of their win