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Sandwell Achieves Another Regeneration Milestone: £19m secured for Rowley Regis Towns Fund

Sandwell’s Towns Fund Programme has taken a leap forward this week, with £19m funding for five regeneration projects in Rowley Regis being approved by the government.

In 2020, Rowley Regis, Smethwick and West Bromwich were among 101 places selected by central government to bid for funding in the national Towns Fund initiative. All three bids were successful.

This week the government has approved the funding for the five individual Rowley Regis projects.

Together, the Rowley Regis Town Fund projects will deliver ambitious projects that will have a positive effect on Rowley Regis residents through improved transport links and community space, and a new skills centre. As it is a five-year programme, projects will come to life at different points during this period.

The five Rowley Regis Town Fund projects are:

• Britannia Park Greenspace and Community Hub (Sandwell Council) – improving the infrastructure, facilities and environmental quality of Britannia Park through the delivery of a new low-carbon community building. This will provide changing rooms, new allotment plots, tree planting, reconstructed skate park, new play and fitness equipment and improve the main entrance and driveway, car park and constructing footpaths within the park.

• Canal Network Connectivity (Canal & River Trust) – improving active travel connectivity within and across Rowley Regis by upgrading the Old Main Line Canal and Dudley No.2 Canal towpath surfaces, and access points onto the canal from surrounding areas.

• Rowley Regis Satellite Education Hub (Sandwell College) – a new, dedicated education and training centre in Cradley Heath, Rowley Regis, to enable the engagement of young people and adults. The Hub will work in conjunction with local community groups to provide access to social, medical and other education advice and services – providing a ‘resource centre’ with Sandwell College as the anchor institution.

• Blackheath Bus Interchange and Public Realm (Sandwell Council) – the creation of a central bus interchange around Blackheath Market Place. This will improve arrangements for pedestrians and cyclists, creating new public realm and a focal point to the town centre, adapting delivery arrangements and excluding through traffic.

• Rowley Regis Connected (Sandwell Council) – a phased set of infrastructure improvements to link transport (rail, bus) and employment hubs in Blackheath, Cradley Heath and Oldbury. Delivering new pedestrian and cycle routes including segregated cycle routes, resurfacing and widening footpaths, upgrading crossing facilities and lighting, introducing traffic calming, improving signage and road markings.

Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “The council, working in partnership with Sandwell College and the Canal & River Trust, has achieved government approval for the £19 million funding for the five Towns Fund projects, which will enable us to drive the town’s economic regeneration.

“As a result, we will deliver long-term economic growth that will benefit Rowley Regis’ residents and businesses, gearing up the skills of our workforce so they can respond to changing business needs and play their part in a growing, resilient economy.”

About the other Towns Fund bids in Sandwell

Sandwell Council has worked in partnership with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, Canal & River Trust, Greets Green Community Enterprise Centre and Sandwell College (Sandwell’s Towns Fund Partnership) to help secure £67.5 million Towns Fund investment in total for Sandwell. This is the largest amount for any local authority area under the Towns Fund programme.

To date, 13 out of 16 projects have been approved by the government, securing £46m for the benefit of Sandwell. Sandwell’s Towns Fund Partnership looks forward to receiving a response from the government on the remaining West Bromwich Town Deal projects.

 


Important Information about £150 Energy Bill Rebate

What do I need to do?

If you already pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit and you live in a property in bands A, B, C or D, you don’t need to do anything.

The rebate payment will be made into your bank account. Payments will start to be made from April.

If you don’t pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit, we’ll be in touch. And if you don’t pay Council Tax, we’ll also contact you as you will need to apply for the £150.

Council Tax bills for the 2022/23 financial year are being sent out now. Direct Debit is the quickest and easiest way to pay Council Tax, and the best way for most people to get the rebate. If you’re not already paying by Direct Debit, you can set up a Direct Debit online.

If you’re not sure which Council Tax band your home is in, you can check it online.

What if I don’t live in a Band A to D property?

If you live in a home in Bands E to H, there will be a discretionary scheme that you may be able to apply to. Information about this will be shared on the council website.

In the meantime, please don’t call us about this scheme.

Do keep an eye on the council website for updates.

More information

You’ll find details on eligibility and updates on how we will contact those who don’t pay by Direct Debit on our website.

If you’re not a Sandwell Council Tax payer but you’re signed up for these emails, you can find out more about the scheme on the Government website. Your local council will be in touch if you are eligible for the rebate.


Expressions of Interest – Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is for exceptional groups of volunteers who are making a positive impact in their community and benefiting others through their work. We are looking for volunteers who have taken the initiative to create, lead and drive forward the work of their organisation and are doing this in a way that is truly distinctive and excellent.

If your Organisation is interested in applying for this exceptional award then please let me have your expressions of interest by no later than Friday 13th May 2022 by emailing:Comm_Partnerships@sandwell.gov.uk

Once I receive the expressions of interest I will be inviting all those interested to a virtual workshop via Microsoft teams on:

Save the date Tuesday 14th June 2022 at 2pm for 1.5 hours where the Mayor of Sandwell will open the meeting, and the Deputy Lieutenant John Wood will go through the process of the nomination form and the support provided to each group via a presentation.

Please ensure that you read all the information to see if you qualify (see below links for the QAVS)
https://www.gov.uk/queens-award-for-voluntary-service
https://qavs.dcms.gov.uk/


Three chairs…?

The Sandwell team at Brook are on the move and in need of some office furniture, if anyone has any to kindly donate.  Staff are moving to the YMCA in West Bromwich and urgently need at least three chairs, desks and filing cabinets.

The service there will offer support to young people to make the right choices and understand how to be resilient and responsible adults.  They will also be training fellow professionals on how to deliver sex education and motivational support, as well as offering advice to parents and carers.

If  you have any office furniture to donate please contact jane.mcnally@brook.org.uk


Sandwell seeks views on plans to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping

Sandwell Council has confirmed its commitment to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping with a set of priorities planned for the next five years.

Members of the public and interested organisations are being asked for their feedback on the strategy.
Through the Sandwell Homelessness Partnership, Sandwell Council is committed to ensuring that it builds on its past successes in tackling homelessness with plans taking it up to 2027.

The council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeper Strategy aims to:
• prevent and relieve homelessness
• ensure that a range of suitable, sustainable accommodation options are available for people who are or may become homeless
• understand people affected by homelessness and the real problems that need to be solved around homelessness
• provide robust holistic support for people who are or may become homeless, or who need support to prevent them becoming homeless again
• ensure that no one in Sandwell has to sleep rough.

Anyone who is interested is invited to give feedback to help shape the strategy before it is taken forward for formal approval and implementation.

Comments are invited on the consultation by Friday 25 February by visiting www.sandwell.gov.uk/consultation

 


Free Parking for Wednesbury Vaccination Centre Users

From Monday, 13 December, half of Spring Head car park in Wednesbury will be available free of charge for those using the vaccination centre at the Wesley Centre Methodist Church, Spring Head, Wednesbury, WS10 9AD. Spaces for Blue Badge holders needing vaccinations will also be retained.

Other town centre users and workers will still be able to pay and display on the half of Spring Head car park nearest to the A461, Walsall Street.

Wednesbury councillors made the request to encourage a greater take-up of vaccinations, and the decision is supported by the Director of Public Health, Dr Lisa McNally.

The half of Spring Head car park nearest to Wharfedale Street will be signed as a ‘Vaccination Centre Car Park’ and will be operated by a parking enforcement officer.

Vaccination centre users will be able to drive into the signed and barriered half of the car park from Spring Head, so that vaccination appointment letters or text message confirmations can be checked before parking. The exit will be via Wharfedale Street.

The pay and display access and exit for other town centre users and workers will be from Spring Head. Pay and display parking is also available around the corner on Ridding Lane car park. The signs and barriers will be in place first thing on Monday morning to guide car park users.

Councillor Ahmad Bostan, Sandwell Council cabinet member for environment, said: “We urge anyone who is eligible to get their booster vaccine. By making half of Spring Head car park free of charge for those using the vaccination centre, we will make it easier for people in Wednesbury to get jabbed and help to protect their community.

“I thank the councillors in Wednesbury for identifying this issue. We have been proud to work with our residents, fellow councillors and partners to understand the needs of our communities and respond rapidly, as demonstrated by the decision to make half of Spring Head car park free of charge for those using the vaccination centre at the Wesley Centre Methodist Church. This will make Sandwell is a place where we all live healthy lives.”

Councillor Suzanne Hartwell, cabinet member for adults, social care and health, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sandwell Council has been providing vital services, supporting local action and bringing partners together. Everyone should take extra care to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. If you haven’t yet had all your vaccinations, please get your jabs as soon as you can. If you’re eligible for a booster vaccine, get that as well.

“And it’s absolutely crucial that if you have Covid-19 symptoms you stay home and get tested. Ignoring this advice can cost lives.”

To book your Covid-19 vaccine go to www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.


Have your say on the SAFL Ron Davis Centre Expansion in Smethwick

The Sandwell Adult Family Learning (SAFL) Ron Davis Centre in Smethwick currently works with adults over the age of 19 and families, offering a wide range of support including education, training, skills and careers advice.

The Towns Fund Ron Davis Centre Expansion project will provide two additional specialised digital classrooms to deliver transformational change in the Smethwick area for residents and expand targeted education and skills support. This project will also see the regeneration and upgrade of a local asset, allowing residents to access modern learning facilities.

Ron Davis Centre Expansion – Project details

We want your input on the future use of the Ron Davis Centre. To have your say, please complete our short online questionnaire by Friday 17 December 2021. You can also attend the drop in session taking place on 22 November 2021 from 2pm – 8pm (open access – no booking is required).

Address:
The Ron Davis Centre
Ballot Street
Smethwick
B66 3HH


Rough Sleeper Estimate – 18th November 2021

As part of this year’s Rough Sleeper Estimate, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council will be undertaking an evidence-based estimate which includes a spotlight count. The spotlight count will take place on Thursday 18th November (commencing at midnight) and into the morning of Friday 20th November 2020. The purpose of the estimate is to assess the numbers of people rough sleeping on this typical night.

Since last year the Council has undertaken several interventions to support rough sleepers and increased its local rough sleeper intelligence, therefore the forum was of the view that the estimate this year would also benefit from a spot count, alongside the intelligence provided by our colleagues and partners.

To ensure this year’s figure is as robust as possible, we are asking colleagues and local agencies that may encounter people who are sleeping rough to participate and send us any intelligence you may have, using the attached ‘Estimate Notification Form’ and associated guidance.

Can we ask that you please the form to send us any intelligence you have about people you encounter who are sleeping rough on the chosen night of Thursday 19th November and into the morning of Friday 19th November 2021.

Please can you submit this information to us by midday on Friday 19th November so that all data can be collated and our final figure determined.

Please send your returns to myself pam_mandermasonde@sandwell.gov.uk and Ellen_OBrien@sandwell.gov.uk


Sandwell’s Homelessness Week: providing real, practical help to rough sleepers

Following World Homeless Day on Sunday, 10 October, Sandwell Council’s Housing Solutions Service were out across Bearwood, Smethwick and West Bromwich between 11-15 October. The team offered advice, information about housing support and other services and provisions to those rough sleeping and those at risk of rough sleeping.

The team worked with local businesses, charities, residents and rough sleepers to offer information about the Housing Solutions service and how to access support. Food, sundries and other essentials were given to those in need. In addition to evening walks in Smethwick and Bearwood, the Rough Sleepers Team joined the Safer 6 campaign daytime walks on Smethwick and Bearwood High Street.

West Midlands Langar Seva (www.midlandlangarseva.org), a charity that helps those in need, provided hot meals throughout the week in Carters Green, West Bromwich, next to the Farley Clock Tower. The Rough Sleepers Team and the West Bromwich BID Team joined West Midlands Langar Seva on Wednesday, 13 October and Friday, 15 October.

Councillor Zahoor Ahmed, cabinet member for housing, said: “More than 4,000 Sandwell families or individuals declared themselves homeless in 2020/21. In 70% of these cases we worked to prevent individuals and families losing their homes. We will work to identify the needs of the most vulnerable people in Sandwell and work to support families who are at risk of becoming or who are homeless. The Housing Solutions Service can help with all sorts of issues, so don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call and ask if they can help you”.

If you would like to make a difference to the lives of those who are rough sleeping, or at risk of rough sleeping, please donate to the alternative giving campaign Change into Action. This initiative offers practical help for rough sleepers, helping to tackle the underlying causes of homelessness. Donations are used to provide accommodation, access to healthcare, clothing and training that could lead to a job.

Donations can be made online at: www.changeintoaction.org.uk/sandwell/donate

Please visit www.sandwell.gov.uk/housing for more information.


‘Grab a Jab’ – find out more about ‘booster’ vaccinations (and other stuff…)

As we begin to emerge from the Covid pandemic, the vaccination programme for both 1st/2nd and ‘booster’ vaccinations continues at pace.

Black Country and West Birmingham CCG have a website – COVID-19 Vaccination | How to access your vaccine in the Black Country and West Birmingham (blackcountryandwestbirmccg.nhs.uk) – where you can find information about:

  • who can get vaccinated – including:
    • children (aged 12-15)
    • anyone 16 years and over
  • where you can get vaccinated – including:
    • locations across the Black Country and Birmingham
  • general vaccine information; and
  • stories form both individuals and organisations.

There is also information about booster vaccinations … people most at risk of COVID-19, who have already had two doses of the vaccine, will be offered a booster vaccine. If it’s been 182 days since your second dose you will be invited for your booster when it’s your turn. You can also check your eligibility for the booster programme.

Please share the details of this website and its contents with friends, family and your wider community contacts.


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