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Community and living, Environment

Top national award for Lambeth’s Community Freshview scheme

An innovative scheme that has seen hundreds of Lambeth residents join forces with the council to give their neighbourhoods a makeover has won a major national award.

Community Freshview, which sees residents and Lambeth Council staff roll up their sleeves to make a difference to the environment by scrubbing away dirt, clearing away rubbish, and planting shrubs and trees, has this week been named Best Community Scheme at the Keep Britain Tidy awards.

Started in 2008, the scheme has seen dozens of groups of residents get together and improve their local areas up and down the borough. The council and staff from its contractor, Veolia Environmental Services, provide equipment, advice and support, but most of the elbow grease is provided by the residents themselves.

Dozens of areas have benefited. In Lanercost Road, Streatham Hill, a children’s play area has been completely revitalised and in Josephine Avenue, Brixton, an area previously blighted by anti-social behaviour has been transformed into a flourishing community garden. Neighbours in Tierney Road, Streatham Hill, have made new friends and discovered a new sense of community spirit after tackling a flower bed previously used as a dumping ground.

This year alone, 599 residents have taken part in 34 Community Freshview events cutting back a total of 1,050 metres of hedges, planting hundreds of shrubs and removing more than 80 tonnes of rubbish.

Cllr Lorna Campbell, Lambeth Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Lambeth is cleaner, tidier and more attractive thanks to Community Freshview and the work of hundreds of local people working with dedicated council staff, so I’m delighted that it has won this award.

“Residents who take part in a Community Freshview day say it has helped to create a greater sense of community in their street, often helping people making friends with their neighbours for the first time. There are dozens of success stories from all over the borough where an overgrown green space has been cleared, a new community vegetable garden created or playground given a new lease of life, and we want to build on this success in the future.

“What Community Freshview has shown is that it is by working hand in hand with local people that we can have the most success in improving the environment.”

Lambeth is developing plans to become the country’s first ‘Cooperative Council’ and Community Freshview is at the leading edge of this initiative, showing how a cooperative approach can make a real difference. A key benefit is that the improvements are maintained because residents themselves have taken ownership.

Robert Seear, Veolia’s senior contracts manager in Lambeth, said: “It is fantastic that this excellent initiative has won this award. It is richly deserved thanks to all the hard work and effort put in by all parties, but most notably the residents, whose enthusiasm and dedication has made this such a success.”

Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy said: “The Community Freshview initiative is a worthy winner of what was an exceptionally strong category.

“Among the many attractions of the scheme was how it enabled communities to take real ownership of the project, ensuring long term sustainability.

“A key aim of the Keep Britain Tidy Network is for residents, land managers and other organisations to work together to improve the quality of neighbourhoods and this initiative is an excellent example of what can be achieved.”

Paul Butterworth, who helped set up a Community Freshview day in Raleigh Gardens Brixton Hill, said: “… This was the first time that a lot of our neighbour’s had an opportunity to all sit down talk about our shared environment and introduce ourselves to each other. A lot of new friends were made that day, which if it wasn’t for this scheme it would not have happened …”

If you are interested in taking part in a Community Freshview Scheme with your names the council would like to hear from you so we can help you with your plans.

Call 020 7926 0524 or email Freshview@lambeth.gov.uk.

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