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Street Cleaning By Volunteers Social Enterprise Scheme Questioned

Published on: 11 Apr, 2014
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2014

A scheme that aims to recruit young volunteers to clean the streets of Westborough ward and take on gardening jobs, normally undertaken by Guildford Borough Council, is about to be rolled out.

Street cleaning and litter picking in Westborough will be done by young volunteers under a new scheme called Glade.

Street cleaning and litter picking in Westborough will be done by young volunteers under a new scheme called Glade.

Called Glade, the council says that this social enterprise scheme “will provide opportunities for local residents in disadvantaged areas to benefit from access to training, skills and work opportunities”.

However, a Westborough ward councillor is concerned about the nature in which the scheme has been set up and that residents have not been consulted about it.

Lib Dem councillor Julia McShane, who lives in Park Parn and who is a dedicated member of the Park Barn & Westborough Community Association, said: “I am disappointed that the information released by the council about Glade is, I believe, misleading in its reference to street cleansing services, given that the contract to provide that element of the enterprise has not yet even been signed.

“I acknowledge that the core purpose of this social enterprise is to give opportunities for residents in Westborough to benefit from access to training, skills and work and obviously I welcome those opportunities.

“However, I’m not at all sure how Westborough and Park Barn residents can support such an enterprise when there has been no publicity about it in our community. Nor has there been any consultation with residents regarding the street cleansing service being transferred away from council staff to volunteers.”

Glade is a joint project, supported by Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership, Guildford Borough Council, Oakleaf Enterprise and Guildford YMCA.

In its press release about the scheme, GBC states that: …”councillors agreed that Glade will deliver selected gardening and street cleansing services while training local apprentices. Guildford College will help provide a programme of training and skills development to help volunteers access permanent employment.”

The release includes an upbeat quote by council leader Stephen Mansbridge: “This is another fantastic example of the benefits that social enterprise can bring. We have already seen the success of the Guildford Bike Project and we have every confidence that Glade and its volunteers will provide an excellent service. Social enterprise projects really need the support of their local communities to grow, so I hope businesses and residents will consider using Glade for gardening work in the future.”

The council adds that young people “will work in supervised teams” and “will work towards an accredited qualification with opportunities to move on to paid employment with Glade”.

Kevin Delf, chief executive at Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership (SLLP) said: “SLLP have always looked for partnerships to provide creative and innovative ways to bring learning into practical situations and change lives in a meaningful way.

“The most effective way to empower communities is to provide opportunities for people within them to make decisions about what affects their community together with practical opportunities to learn skills to make things happen for them, their family and wider community.”

Julia McShane has also questioned Kevin Delf’s comments. She added: “I am particularly concerned at the assertion by Mr Delf regarding his comment about ‘to empower communities is to provide opportunities for people within them to make decisions about what affects their community…’

“The way this social enterprise has been set up by the council and partner organisations with absolutely no involvement with Westborough residents is yet another example of our community being ‘done to’ rather than being ‘worked with’.

“Westborough residents don’t need meaningless statements but deserve more action to actively include and involve them in the projects that are supposed to be for their benefit.”

The council says that as a social enterprise, all profits from Glade will be reinvested in developing more training opportunities and benefits for the wider local community.

Mentioning the Stoke ward too, the council adds: “Glade will also encourage local people in Westborough and Stoke to become involved in its management so that it becomes a sustainable community run business. Any local businesses or residents that require gardening services are invited to contact Glade on 01483 487892.”

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Responses to Street Cleaning By Volunteers Social Enterprise Scheme Questioned

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    April 11, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Why do we pay council tax then?

    The are many properties within out town where no council tax is paid at all and yet these occupiers put a tremendous pressure on the borough services by leaving rubbish outside of their curtilages which in turn is causing a serious rat problem.

    Perhaps we should take a lead from some of our European neighbours who are fined for such transgressions.

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    April 11, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Great timing linking this Big Society with David Cameron’s Easter address.
    Pity, as claimed, the arrogant Conservative council has failed to consult and work with residents in advance, and now plans to withdraw its statutory service for this self financing/free scheme.
    It also demonstrates the devaluation of modern apprenticeships. These use to lead, as a minimum, to a qualification (practical and academic) in a craft. I don’t see how ‘street cleaning services’ falls into that category.

  3. Mary Bedforth Reply

    April 13, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    An early training for Workfare with no pay.

    What happens if any of the ‘volunteers’ receive an injury, say a needlestick or a cut from broken glass for example?

  4. Cllr Zoe Franklin Reply

    April 14, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Like Cllr MacShane I share concerns about the lack of consultation with residents on this. I also find it frustrating that what was originally billed as something that would be of benefit to Stoke and Westborough in terms of the services delivered is now focussed primarily on Westborough. This could be a fantastic opportunity to provide training, encourage community-led social enterprise and build pride in the community of trainees from the Stoke area. Sadly I fear that this has been lost in the present arrangements. I hope that this and community involvement can be addressed as the project goes forward.

  5. Kevin Delf Reply

    May 2, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I was interested to see your article. Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership (SLLP) have been working in Stoke and Westborough for some time, engaging with individual residents and community groups, most recently in providing free IT courses and through our Guildford Bike Project.
    We do see the value of consulting and working with local residents and groups and would continue to do this as this local enterprise develops; it is very early days and as a learning charity it is always our aim to make sure what we are doing genuinely makes a difference.

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