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Transforming Old Town

"Transforming old Town" is the title of a bid for a £4.9 million grant spread over 7 years. The grant will enable the partnership of local people and business and agencies to tackle one of the worst pockets of deprivation in the West Midlands outside of the main conurbation. The Old Town area of Leamington Spa, home to 14,000 people including many of a minority ethnic origin, exhibits many of the characteristics of a typical inner city area:

  • high unemployment
  • low educational attainment and low literacy levels
  • high proportion of unsuitable housing

But the area and the people also offer opportunities to tackle this deprivation: this is what makes "Transforming Old Town" an exciting bid. Led by the local community, the Bid represents a real choice to make change for the better happen. It was submitted at the end of April to Advantage West Midlands (the Regional development Agency) by the newly established Leamington Old Town Partnership Board. The grant will be supplemented by other public and private sector contributions of £11 million to the overall programme of regeneration in Old Town.

A key message of the Bid is that the people who live and work in the area must be enabled to work out their own needs and how best to meet them. The grant plus other contributions will enable the following to be achieved:

  • Promotion of a community development and capacity building approach
  • Improvement to: education achievement, access to appropriate training and employment opportunities
  • Creation of employment and enterprise opportunities and encouragement of appropriate and accessible retail and financial services
  • Enhancement of built and natural environment and improvement to poor housing
  • Improvement to people’s health through holistic approach
  • Promotion of sustainable, safe and accessible transport
  • Creation and promotion of leisure and arts opportunities
  • Tackling community safety issues

The Bid aims to target its help at those who are most disadvantaged in the Old Town community. These include:

  • Pre-school and underachieving school children
  • Socially and/or educationally excluded youth
  • Single parents and their children
  • Children and parents in low income households
  • Minority ethnic communities
  • The long term unemployed and those with no employment experience
  • Low income older people and
  • People with disabilities

Some of the possible ideas described in the bid include:

  • Establishing and managing a community resource centre which will include
  • Community health services, education and training guidance, outreach services an IT facility and a crèche
  • School-based projects, such as family literacy programmes, to raise educational achievement among children
  • Learning centres in convenient locations in the community providing relevant training opportunities which are linked to business and other employment openings in the area
  • Projects for youth involving meaningful volunteering opportunities, training and employment guidance, creative ways of tackling low morale and self-esteem which result in antisocial behaviour
  • Providing sports and arts facilities as well as meeting points for use by everyone
  • Environmental improvements to the residential, commercial and industrial areas of Old Town
  • Establishment of a Community Development Fund to enable local groups to finance projects for the area
  • Affordable and high quality childcare services which are designed to fit around peoples needs

All of these are ideas which need to be evaluated and worked out in and with the community – especially with those who most need the benefits that could be realised as a result of a successful bid.

The outcome of the bid will be known in early July. If it is successful, the Leamington Old Town Partnership Board will take the lead in using the funds to make things happen in Leamington Old Town. It will be the responsibility of the Board to make sure that the community participates in a genuine and appropriate way in all plans and projects, and that the funds are used efficiently and effectively for the benefit of the people of the area – helping to Transform Old Town.

More Information:
Eeva John  01926 339525


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