£1m for estate is ‘best Christmas present ever’

Councillor Gerald Shimbart with userse of The Kestrels, Wecock Farm, Waterlooville. 'Thebig Lottery Fund is giving residents �1m to invest and improve the community of Wecock.  ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (124006-674)
Councillor Gerald Shimbart with userse of The Kestrels, Wecock Farm, Waterlooville. 'Thebig Lottery Fund is giving residents �1m to invest and improve the community of Wecock. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (124006-674)
The countryside surrounding Harting Down in the South Downs National Park, in West Sussex.

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ONE of the most deprived areas of the Havant borough has been given a £1m boost.

Residents of the Wecock estate will be asked where to spend the Big Lottery Fund cash which will be given to them over the next 10 years.

Jean Reeder, a member of Wecock Community Association and a lifelong resident of the estate, said: ‘It’s the best Christmas present ever.’

The money comes from a £200m fund for ‘forgotten communities’ which face a range of issues such as high unemployment and crime, decline of industry or a pressing need for new support services or activities.

Residents can choose to spend the money on anything from training and employment schemes, to tackling anti-social behaviour, creating new community facilities or providing more activities for young people.

Donna Holder, 30, lives in Partridge Gardens with her partner and two children.

She said: ‘It’s great news.

‘The Linnet park definitely needs improving. Once children reach the age of 13 or 14 they stop wanting to go to clubs and groups and need something to do.

‘It would be good to invest money in giving young people something to do.’

Jo Holden, who works at Squirrels Nursery which is based at the Acorn Community Centre, said: ‘There are lots of things we would like to spend the money on but we really need a fence for the outside area.

‘At the moment we have to put a makeshift one up every day and when we come in in the morning we have to clear up the cigarette butt and mess that people make overnight.’

Ann Waters is chairman of the trustees of the community association.

She said: ‘The community will be the main force behind this. We will be looking very carefully at how this money is managed in the most effective way for the community.’

Residents will receive training and support from Local Trust, an organisation set up to deliver lottery funding.

Nat Sloane, the chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: ‘This is the Lottery’s largest ever investment in community-led regeneration.

‘This kind of investment is powerful – it goes way beyond annual budgetary cycles of local authorities or the parliamentary terms of well-intentioned governments. ‘It is the kind of investment that is going to help people in these areas achieve lasting, meaningful change, for their children and generations to come.’