West End Community Groups Express NRF frustration and concern

Backdated from previous BA website

Re: Neighbourhood Regeneration Fund (NRF) ALLOCATIONS TO AREA 10 (COVENT GARDEN and South Bloomsbury)

February 5th 2004



Cllr. Jane Roberts
Leader London Borough of Camden
Chair of the Local Strategic Partnership Committee
The Town Hall
LB Camden
Judd Street
LONDON WC1



Dear Jane,

NRF ALLOCATIONS TO AREA 10 (COVENT GARDEN)

We are writing to express our extreme concern at the allocation for NRF Area 10 (Covent Garden).

Covent Garden was designated as a new neighborhood that fitted the criteria for receiving Neighborhood Renewal Funding. For this reason through the auspices of our local councillors, especially Sue Vincent, the four local community groups (Covent Garden Community Association, Bloomsbury Association, Seven Dials Charity and Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust) got together to make mutually supportive applications. I am sure you are aware of the enormous amount of work this has involved not least because the application process has been constructed in an almost impenetrable manner.

We believed that one of the over riding principles of the NRF initiative is that funds are made available to grass root and local groups whose initiatives fit the criteria/s of the NRF. Hence we are frankly amazed that the area has only been awarded a grant of £64,000 over two years for Dragon Hall (while welcome is a minimal sum to run an active new community facility aimed to serve the youth of the area over a two year period) and no money whatsoever for the other three organizations. In the meantime Camden Council projects account for c£4,479,995 (LBC direct funded projects only).

The question in our minds is if Camden has little intention to provide funds for local initiatives run by the local community that meet the criteria set by the NRF, why was Covent Garden designated an area worthy of NRF status in the first place? The whole process has resulted in the local groups being de-motivated .Why is it that rather that actively support local groups at a grass route level the Council has awarded itself such a large slice of the NRF cake? Why were local groups unaware until recently that we have been a SRB | NRF area for some time and what has the input been into the area over these years? Why has there been such a plethora of consultancy work by Camden over the years which has far as we can see has had almost no tangible results (see attached draft paper ‘Covent Garden Consultancies’.? Why were local groups only informed late in the day about the current NRF, and also not notified about the availability of the consultant’s sessions in the Town Hall?


We are now aware that the £157K grant over two years to the PCT for work associated with two local hostels has been included as part of the NRF allocation for Area 10.  This is cause for concern for a number of reasons:

1.    This proposal was not referred to the WEDP (West End Drugs Partnership) but only to its co-ordinator at the last moment;
2.    The concentration of hostels in the West End (in both Camden and Westminster) is a London and not a local issue and especially so when at present 85% of hostel dwellers are ‘chaotic’ drug users (WEDP Stats = using crack and heroin simultaneously);
3.    There is no recognition that the siting of such a large concentration of large hostels within our area in itself magnifies local problems (hence the quote below from your own NRF Prospectus);
4.    If issues surrounding the above are included in NRF Area 10 local groups will never receive any form of reasonable allocation;
5.    There appears to be no recognition that NRF Area 10 is a high density mixed use area where commercial pressures should be recognized.

It is our contention that grants to local groups should recognize the pressures created by all of the above and not be swept away because of them.

We would point out that the NRF Prospectus states that:

‘Crime and community safety remains the priority issue in Covent Garden. In particular, open drug use, drug related crime and anti-social behaviour. The mainstream agencies are already engaged in a variety of co-coordinated interventions to tackle crime and community safety issues. Potential NRF interventions should seek to plug the gaps and allow mainstream agencies to ‘catch-up’. Interventions that involve the recapturing of public spaces to reduce environmental inequalities and designing out crime initiatives are sought.’

If it’s the case that ‘The mainstream agencies are already engaged in a variety of co-coordinated interventions to tackle crime and community safety issues’ how come they have received the bulk of support for our area?

Also how come all this is ‘Expressions of Interest’, which implies something less than set in stone? Does the above grant of £157,000 ‘ involve the recapturing of public spaces to reduce environmental inequalities and designing out crime’?

Finally we would point out that the WEDP is still awaiting the results of a HIA for the siting of a new fixed site needle exchange in our area. In our view this may well exacerbate the problems outlined in your NRF Prospectus, and we assume may thus take up yet more NRF resources.

Yours sincerely,

David Bieda – Chair Seven Dials Monument charity
Jim Murray – Chair Bloomsbury Association
Jim Monahan – Trustee Dragon Hall
Jo Weir – Chair Covent Garden Community Association

CC    Ward Cllrs; Cllr. Theo Blackwell.

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