As a Tenant Ambassador I am part of the Great Estates Team who make decisions on areas that need improving throughout the City of Oxford and to make communal areas more accessible and safer for residents and their families.
The most recent project I and other Tenant Ambassadors have been involved in is the transformation of the residents area at the rear of maisonettes at Linnet Close on Blackbird Leys that had in the past been very run down, easy to access from various entrances and that resulted in anti-social behaviour involving drugs, prostitution, theft and vandalism which made the lives of the families living their unbearable and left them frightened to venture into the communal areas after dark, these activities also had a significant effect on the surrounding roads where residents suffered inconsiderate parking, and late night noise, regular emergency services sirens caused by persons who had no business being there.
But what a difference there is now at Linnet Close the rear area has been totally transformed, gone are the old open plan bin stores, the fenced drying areas that shielded the illegal activities going on replaced with new open plan drying areas, old vandalised storage sheds have had new secure doors fitted and most importantly security gates have been installed at the rear entrances that can only be accessed by those who have legitimate reasons for being there.
This has given the residents a sense of security and a space they can now use without feeling intimidated.
But this work comes at a cost and the Great Estates Budget only goes so far and due to the pandemic, there has been a considerable rise in the price of materials that are used to create these areas and unfortunately some of the changes that wanted doing were unable to be done as this would have exceeded the budget.
When we were informed that work had gone as far as it could I and another ambassador (Ms Gillian Taylor) were concerned that we hadn’t done as much for the residents that had been discussed at the planning stage so we decided to source some more funds and as I am a Blackbird Leys Parish Councillor I suggested that we approach The Parish Council for some funding from their Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies.
With the help of Wendy Hind (Tenant Involvement Team) we put together a bid for £5000 towards the finishing of the Linnet Close project.
On the 30th of November at a full Blackbird Leys Parish Council Meeting, Gill presented the bid to the Councillors in attendance,
Gill answered all the questions and objections fired at her in a calm and professional manner that impressed the Councillors, and after discussion the bid was put to the vote and the £5000 was granted.
The next steps will be an on-site meeting with all the relevant people to decide how best to use this injection of money into the Linett Close Scheme.
The use of the Community Infrastructure Levy monies underpins the commitment of Blackbird Leys Parish Council to support their local community projects and of course now that they have granted funds to a Great Estates Project, we will be able to make further bids should investment be required for future schemes on the Blackbird Leys Estate.
The success of securing these funds from another source proves that Tenant Ambassadors play a significant role in Oxford City Councils area of Tenant Involvement and do have a say in improving the lives of residents.
So do not underestimate your role as a Tenant Ambassador because Gill and I have proved you can have influence and that is the Power of Tenant Involvement.