NK Localism plan

The NK localism plan is about inspiring empowerment in local communities and making a difference for people in North Kesteven. The plan demonstrates the Council’s continued commitment to supporting community development and, in addition, illustrates the Council’s response to the Localism Act introduced by the Government in 2011. Localism is not a new concept for North Kesteven.

The Council’s vision of achieving “100 flourishing communities” is in essence what Localism is all about. The Council has always taken a proactive approach to supporting communities and essentially this plan is an extension of the vision and priorities that are already embraced by the Council. As a result of that North Kesteven has an overwhelming number of active communities throughout the District, all taking pride in their area and using innovative ways to develop better facilities and services for themselves and their residents.

Throughout the plan there are a number of case studies demonstrating the fantastic and inspiring work already taking place in NK by community groups, individuals, parish councils and many others. Whilst these definitely capture the essence of North Kesteven’s community spirit they are only a small percentage of the many examples that could be found. The plan includes a clear and concise overview of the Localism Act, outlining the key elements which effect communities and provides a guide to what measures and provisions North Kesteven is putting in place to fulfil its statutory requirements, but even more than that it demonstrates the overall approach that NK is taking to community engagement in the long term.

In 2008 a dedicated Washingborough committee pulled together in order to better the sports facilities in the village. Members of the Parish Council, Playing Field Association (PFA) and Policing team worked together to meet the needs of the community to build a new sports pavilion in place of the old one which was ‘falling to pieces’.    

Overwhelming community support to ‘get on with the project’ was greatly received by the committee. Funding the project at a time when most sports funding was sidelined for London Olympics 2012 was particularly difficult, but a successful application for a Public Works Loan, some WREN funding and local government funding helped make this possible.

The committee worked with the community, a local architect and builder to ensure the pavilion met the needs of everyone - encompassing multiple changing facilities, accessible out-of-hours public conveniences, meeting area, common room and youth facilities, much more than the group could have ever dreamed.

In August 2009 Washingborough Sports Pavilion opened its doors to the public, now providing better facilities for both the Football and Cricket clubs in the village, and match access for the neighbouring Bowls and Tennis club. Rules put in place by members of the PFA ensure that those using the pavilion will look after it making certain these facilities stay to a high standard for many years to come.

The joint working of the committee members and community shows just how working together can make a project such as this a great success.

Although the success of this project is unequivocally an achievement that should be celebrated, it is equally important to acknowledge that there are future challenges to ensure the continued success of the new Pavilion. The challenges include the day to day funding requirements for the maintenance and operation of the building, the engagement of local volunteers to help run the facility and most importantly creating a community hive by ensuring the asset is filled on a daily basis with a variety of activities run by local businesses and volunteers.

The pool was built by the villagers in 1972 and has continued to be the most used and valued leisure facility in the village. It is a full 25m and, as it is outdoors, it is open from the end of May to the beginning of September each year.

From its start in 1972 to the present day the pool is, with the exception of lifeguards, operated and staffed by volunteers. The whole community gets involved when preparing to open for the new season from the cleaning of the pool to the painting of the fences.

Throughout the season the shop is manned by volunteers who also act as pool receptionists/managers. The pool plant operators are professionally qualified and are also volunteers. The pool gratefully acknowledges the support of the village, local business and tradespeople in enabling the pool to operate for the benefit of the whole community.

Without the continued support of the local community the pool would not be able to operate and therefore it is important to ensure that volunteers continue to come forward to help in any way they can.

Local resident, Madge Atkinson has taken it into her own hands running the local bowls and whist clubs. She also runs a Chatty Café in local church, to enable people to have a meeting place, and organises charity events for local amenities.

The Nettles is a creative green space owned by North Kesteven District Council, managed by artsNK and led by The Nettles Volunteer Group.

The Nettles provide a unique and inspiring natural resource to the local community and visitors to Sleaford.

The Nettles Volunteer group meets once a month and is responsible for a range of conservational tasks such as, cutting the grass, maintaining the path and fence, litter picking, planting, pruning trees and bushes and in particularly the task of shaping the living willow sculpture screen.

Another major aspect is to engage local residents in craft and design projects, working along a variety of art form specialists offering opportunities to learn and develop a range of creative skills, developing a sense of ownership and pride by making a difference to their local community. The group was established as a constituted community group in 2012.

The Nettles activities are regularly supported by the expertise of Hill Holt Wood ranger and local resident John Feneley, artist in residence Alison Walling and the project is managed by artsNK’s Visual Arts Development Coordinator Marion Sander since 2009.

Two years on from being inspired to set up a community shop as a network for village interaction, Justine Forbes’ vision has borne a bountiful harvest. For three hours each Saturday the village hall in tiny Swaton becomes a veritable hive of activity as villagers set out their stall to sell homemade, home grown and home-crafted produce and gather for a natter.

Besides having the drive to set up and coordinate the project, Justine also pulls together orders for newspapers, milk, meat and special requests from among the 40-odd households, collects them and ensures they’re available for collection alongside freshly baked bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables all grown locally.

Everyone contributes from the man who starts baking every Saturday at 3am to the ladies who bake and make ready meals and girls who help to staff it to the customers who come.

Described as being ‘at the heart of all thing’s village related’, running the monthly village magazine, holding fundraising events, instigating an amateur dramatics group and organising the panto - all whilst suffering poor health herself, Mikela Conboy really does make a difference.

The Friends of Heckington Windmill are a registered charity established in 1981. The group is run entirely by a committee of volunteers who ensure the effective management of the mill and its opening to the public throughout the year. As well as opening to the public the group organises special events at the mill, runs guided tours for pre-arranged parties and also training in mill skills. The group have given up many hours of their time to the mill and its development, and are dedicated to raising the profile of this internationally significant eight sailed windmill. The windmill project has been acknowledged as ‘creating the best place in the whole of Britain to come and learn about mills and the families that worked them for generations.

On top of this the Mill Trust has been successful in their bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and have been awarded £990,200 to restore the wider mill site and create a world class visitor attraction around the mill and its Victorian industrial complex.

The monthly Dunston Hub illustrates community spirit in its truest form, creating an event which brings villagers with goods to sell, services to promote and skills to share together with others who have time to talk and news to spread.

Set up in response to diminishing services, it ties in with the arrival of the travelling Post Office, butchery and fish monger and allows residents to bring anything they have for sale from plants and produce to pickles, preserves and provisions.

Diana Hammond, who set it up a year ago with Jean Ford, said it had proved hugely successful and inspired neighbouring Nocton and Metheringham to start their own monthly hubs as the idea spreads across the District.”It’s a sort of cross between drop-in, community shop and coffee morning, meeting all of those functions and much more beside,” said Diana. In addition to the social benefits of increased community cohesion, the Hub has also offers a small income stream for crafts people and clubs and raises funds for local causes such as village hall tables.

Bill and Dot Franklin have seen village amenities decline through their 68 years in the village from two post offices, three butchers, five pubs, a chippie and many others, but think the Dunston Hub revives community spirit and wellbeing. “It does help to get the community together, from the youngest to the oldest, and is always a lively afternoon,” said Mrs Franklin.

To keep this fantastic initiative alive and others that are similar throughout the District it is important that local people continue to offer support in any way they can, whether it be offering services as a volunteer or simply doing some shopping instead of venturing into town.

A Communities can-do response to resolving youngsters’ concerns over a lack of local facilities has resulted in positive action.

Metheringham Parish Council really got its skates on to progress a programme of community action involving the youngsters themselves. This has resulted in a successful grant application supported by 800 people to WREN for £50,000 of waste recycling credit funding towards a fantastic, futuristic skatepark, set to be completed in May.

A second major initiative has been the opening of a ‘Youth Drop-In’ at the Pavilion, currently running one night a week for 10-17 year olds. This gives the youngsters a fun place to go that is dry, warm and safe as it is supervised by a few volunteers. With more volunteer support opening hours could be extended.

The immense effort and time invested by volunteers has been heavily supported by many helpful people and organisations including the Neighbourhood Policing Team, Voluntary Centre Services staff, County Council Youth and Community staff, Community Lincs, WREN, NKDC’s Community Initiatives team and local residents who have supported various fund raising activities.

The continued success of these initiatives rely solely on the commitment of local people willing to volunteer their time, raise money where appropriate and generally offering as much support as possible.

Through a unique solution, Ashby de la Launde now has access to a Broadband system with both upload and download speeds of 100mb, which qualifies as the best connectivity in the country.

After finding there was no hope of an exchange upgrade and that satellite link-up was not a feasible option, Ashby was introduced to the company NextGenUs which used the village’s unique position as a small linear settlement surrounded by land in single ownership to come up with the solution of a fibre optic ring.

A local land owner gave access for a fibre optic cable to be laid behind every house and individuals then dug their own channel for private connection at a cost of £150 per house with a £30 monthly charge. Even those who didn’t want immediate connection have the cable linked to their house ready for future switch-on. The Ashby solution has also helped nearby Digby access a workable Broadband connection and villagers are happy to share their experience with other communities in need of a quick fix.

This demonstrates that if people work together they can achieve big things that really make a difference.

Evergreen is a friends scheme set up to aid the elderly and vulnerable who live alone. The service operates within a 10 mile radius of Sleaford and has over 30 volunteers who offer over 55s a one to one friendship. Each volunteer is carefully identified and paired with an elderly person who they then visit for at least an hour on a weekly basis.

With 41 per cent of the population of Lincolnshire currently being over 50 and by 2033 it being nearer to 50 per cent this is a vital service for the Elderly in Sleaford.

In October 2008 the BIZ (Billinghay In-Zone) opened its doors for the young people of Billinghay and surrounding villages. It is a youth drop-in for those aged 13 to 19 where they can socialise in a warm and safe environment. The behaviour rules together with decisions on activities are led by an elected youth panel who inform the work of the leader.

The youth panel selected what equipment they wanted and were assisted in applying for a grant for its purchase. Films are shown on a regular basis with pool, table football and table tennis being popular. A selection of warm drinks is always available and no charges are made for this provision which continues to be generously supported by many willing donors.

The BIZ operates only during term times and on Monday evenings. Over fifty young people have signed up as members with the largest attendance being thirty-two in one night. They also provide group activities out of the village with recent trips to Lincoln PlayZone and ten-pin bowling.

In addition they employ DJ’s from time to time but every session a audio docking station is available for the young people to play their music. The project is run entirely by volunteer leaders and they hope to extend the service to young people in other villages if a Community Bus becomes available.