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New residents’ group starting at Knowle West Health Park

Intention for groups to be established across the whole of the area

A new residents’ group will be starting at Knowle West Health Park in August to help tackle any local issues – from traffic and crime to litter problems and improving the area.

It is the fourth one in the neighbourhood – and like the already-established groups at Inns Court, Melvin Square and Knowle Park – will be responsible for dealing with any problems people are concerned about in the locality.

The new Health Park group will meet on the fourth Monday of the month and mean people living in the surrounding streets can come and have their say.

The groups have all been started by Carol Casey, a community activist and Independent Advisor for Avon and Somerset Police, working with local Beat Manager PC Ben Blackmore – who both attend the monthly meetings.

PC Ben Blackmore and Carol Casey who have started all the residents groups in the area

Carol says the aim is to “cover the whole estate”, so residents don’t have to go far to access a group and bring any issues about their neighbourhood – which can be passed on to the police.

She explains: “It’s about getting people’s views and getting them involved. Then no-one can say they can’t access a meeting. I might live on Melvin but might shop in Jarman’s – so residents can go to any of the groups across the estate.

“Some residents from Newquay Road go to The Square rather than Filwood, that’s why we are trying to give people the choice.”

Carol, who was born and grew up in Knowle West, is the former Chair of Knowle West Health Association and has been working voluntarily with the police for eight years – helping to forge stronger links with the community.

She says: “I set the groups up with the local Beat Manager and we allow each one to run six months – and when that six months is over, get the residents to take on the roles of Chair and Treasurer. I set up a constitution and they can then open up a bank account under that and apply for funding…

‘It’s down to each group what they want to do. Melvin is trying to get decent shops in the area and facilities for youth, it is whatever the residents will bring forward.

“Inns Court have been clearing the area and cutting the hedge back because of anti-social behaviour and crime in their patch – which has really reduced since the group has been running – this is what these residents’ groups will do…”

Inns Court Residents Group

Inns Court Residents Group is the longest running, originally Inns Court Residents Association (ICRA) – it changed its name in 2018.

Members of Inns Court Residents Group when they first started cutting back vegetation in Inns Court Drive in 2018 for road safety and to prevent fly tipping. Left to right: Jenny Young, Chair David Wood, Fliss Barton from Bristol City Council, Heather Pickford and front Diane Bowden.

As well as meetings – members also hold regular “clean up and cut back” sessions in the area on a Wednesday to make it a “better and safer place to live in.”

David Woods was a member of ICRA for around eight years before becoming Chair – and continued when it became Inns Court Residents Group.

Chair of Inns Court Residents Group, David Woods.

He says: “Inns Court is a bit of a special case, it’s got lots of carparks and bits of woodland and we get terrible fly tipping here.

“Working with volunteers we spend a day a month going round with a trolley loading it up and taking to a central location where we organise a pick up. This summer we worked twice a month and were still filling them up…”

He says people can bring any issues to the meetings which the group can discuss and then “contact different departments of the council.”

Melvin Square Residents Group

Melvin Square Residents Group – set up in 2018 – now has around 200 members. It meets at Filwood Community Centre, although has been running mostly online during the pandemic.

Chair of Melvin Square Residents Group, Nick Haskins.

The new Chair Nick Haskins, who took the role six weeks ago, says: “What you’ve got in Melvin Square and Knowle West as a whole is no infrastructure… There’s plans to build around 7,000 houses on the green spaces in Knowle West and we’re desperate for shops.”

He says there are also concerns about the young people in the area who have “absolutely nothing’. From talking to them they would “like a youth club, somewhere to go in bad weather” – and many of the older ones are keen to start their own businesses.

And he feels it is important that all the residents’ groups work together.

Nick adds: “It seems everyone is doing different things. It would be good for all the groups to come together under one umbrella.”

That is very much the hope of Carol who wants to see a more combined approach across the neighbourhood.

She says: “They can all work together and join up and cover a wider area – so it’s about having a larger voice within the area.”

Knowle Park Residents’ Association
Chair of Knowle Park Residents’ Association, Les Bowen, who ran a Drop the Knife campaign as a Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator.

Knowle Park Residents’ Association was formed in 2019 and meets in the community centre off The Square.

Chair Les Bowen who has also been a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator for a number of years says “nothing is off the table” to be discussed.

He says: “You can bring any issues – from damage to cars and car parking on the pavement to bad roads, crime and antisocial behaviour – it all comes in and we don’t have a closed agenda.

“The local councillors have been invited and do attend the meetings and we are hoping to include local speakers at our meetings in future.”

Although, like other buildings, the community centre has been closed during the pandemic, the group are hoping to hold their next meeting there on 16 August.

“Eventually they want it run across Bristol…”

Carol hopes eventually that all the Chairs of the groups will be part of an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) which will be based at Broadbury Road Police Station. This will help with local issues being taken up by Avon and Somerset Police.

Future plans also include setting up another residents’ group at Eagle House in Newquay Road so “all the gaps are filled.”

Avon and Somerset Police are also keen to start them in the surrounding neighbourhoods of Hartcliffe, Brislington and Stockwood.

Carol says: ” Eventually they want it run across Bristol using the same model and leading on what we have learnt in Knowle West.”

To join a residents’ group meeting:

All groups meet monthly from 12 noon-1pm and on a Monday – so it will be easy for people to remember the day and time.

Inns Court Residents Group meets on the first Monday of the month at Inns Court Community and Family Centre in Marshall Walk, next one on 2 August. The group is holding a ‘clean up and cut back’ session on Wednesday 11 August from 9am to 3pm, meeting opposite the children’s play area in Inns Court. Visit https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/527718631020875/

Melvin Square Residents Group meets on the second Monday of the month at Filwood Community Centre in Barnstaple Road. The next meeting is on 9 August. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/210016939833969/

Knowle Park Residents’ Association meets on the third Monday of the month at Knowle Community Centre on The Square, next one on 16 August. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/733632267061245

Knowle West Health Park Residents Group will be meeting on the fourth Monday of the month at the Health Park in Downton Road, starting on 23 August – and people can just turn up. Currently only four people can attend in person for the first one – but they will be setting up a Teams meeting for future sessions for residents to also join online.