Improving Hartlepool Podcast Episode 4

Hello & welcome to the Improving Hartlepool Podcast, I’m Steve your presenter.

The Improving Hartlepool Podcast is looking in to community matters, how Hartlepool could be improved, & how it could be a better place to live & work and everything else in-between.


Coming up on this episode of the Improving Hartlepool Podcast:


We look in to community groups & neighbourhood forums and then look at a Care home that’s been proposed on Merlin Way, then it’s on to an event recently held by the Hartlepool Fabian Society titled What Can One Town Do to Improve Education.


We also have another two regular features the first feature we take a look in to ideas or what’s happening in other parts of the country or even the world this section is called Would it Work and asking if it would work in Hartlepool, and on this podcast, we are looking into if a luxury cinema would work?
And the last item is about buying or shopping local, where I review a shop or local service I have used recently, this episode its the One Stop at the Saxon on Easington Road.


Community Groups & Neighbourhood Forums.


We all walk the same streets, we see the same problems and we share the same concerns, now as members of our communities, we are accountable for them and we’re all on the same side and we all want the same things, we all have the ability to implement great changes in our communities, we just need to get involved and start making this difference, local residents & the council can support each other and create a successful and sustainable partnerships , residents know the community better than anybody, they are able to assess what the community needs better than anybody in a suit could.
There are five components of a successful working relationship, between council & community.

1 Recognise what each partner is trying to achieve:

Recognising the value each brings to the relationship also involves empathy towards each other’s positions and perceived shortcomings. On the part of the council, there can be an attitude that the residents lack sufficient expertise.
Councils may feel that the newly empowered residents are seen as a threat to the traditional controlling role of councillors and councils, rather than a valuable local asset, resource and capacity for the area.
Councils should think about supplementing formal processes with more informal or social routes to get to know residents in their community.
Councillors in particular should understand their role as a bridge between the ambitions of the community and the specialist expertise of the council – and play a proactive part in identifying opportunities to link these.
The resident-led groups should realise that a good relationship with the council is necessary to the smooth running of projects, and can help unblock barriers or unleash action to help the
development of a project, & don’t perceive the council as a single unified entity, and recognise the need to build relationships on different levels & within different teams

2 Take active steps to build trust:


It has been known for councils to enter into the partnership with a set view of what it can be, based on their own agenda rather than that of the community.

Councillors in particular must be careful not to over-promise where there is then a risk of under-delivering – make sure to identify deliverables which could be small scale but will serve to develop trust.
Council officers and senior management should work with community partners to establish a clear timeline and endpoint of projects from the very start to remove ambiguity.

Resident-led groups may need to recognise that as statutory bodies, councils need to go through due diligence, including legal and financial checks, which can sometimes seem beside the point to the project at hand.

Chairs or representatives should establish a long-term relationship with key individuals in the council who can advance the aims of the group, such as councillors, in areas where there is an engaging/proactive parish council or other community organisations, they can be an invaluable ally in terms of getting projects set up, unblocking barriers and liaising with the local authority.


3 Maintain ongoing dialogue and honest communication:


Clear communication is essential to navigating some of the problematic inconsistencies that can sometimes set things back. Community populations can change, and the council can be subject to personnel and political changes, both of which can frustrate the development of a strong relationship.

Mitigating the impact of these relies on clear communication that ensures mutual understanding and to ensure those involved do not feel their hard work has been put in for nothing.

Council officers and councillors should conduct regular meetings with the group to ensure that both failures and successes are discussed and reflected upon in an open and honest way, also they should be prepared to communicate disappointing news to the community with empathy and truthfulness.

Resident-led groups should be assertive when dealing with the council, and at the same time be understanding about how negative behaviours, particularly in formal meetings, can undermine effective communication and the development of a positive relationship over time.


4 Be flexible and adaptable:


Council officers and senior management in particular should be prepared to negotiate and compromise on certain key positions the council holds in order to achieve the best outcome for the community.

Don’t assume you need to enter into a partnership knowing the outcome at the start – be open and start with a blank sheet of paper & expect the goalposts to shift.

Representatives and chairs should be prepared to negotiate and compromise on certain key issues in order to achieve the best outcome for the community.

Understand that councils are going through a process of transition themselves.

Try to find ways to feedback positively on proactive and adaptive behaviours, especially to elected members who are accountable, and who ultimately need to represent your concerns within the council.


5 Develop shared ownership and accountability


Forging a shared approach can sometimes be frustrated by people who remain preoccupied with their personal agenda rather than a collective agenda, & time and persistence to develop a wider community approach can lead to certain individuals falling by the wayside as partnerships embed.

Developing clear accountability is critical to securing a shared sense of ownership and follow-through. The absence of it can create problems.
Councils need to get creative about how to engage with the community – understand that entering the partnership should be on their terms, so find out how and where you can add value, you don’t need to step in to lead if there’s a lack of commitment on the part of residents, work with allies in the community to generate engagement rather than taking it over.

Councillors need to be wary of trying to seek credit for projects or the perception that they can be easily politicised – make sure you communicate the shared nature of joint endeavours.

Foster a sense of ownership of a project in the community by making clear where residents are taking charge of key aspects of the project. In some areas, elected members on the steering committee have deliberately excluded themselves from voting on key decisions in order to give residents the ultimate say.

Resident-led groups should explore creative ways of engaging the community. This may include different means of advertising an event or opportunity for residents to be involved in community initiatives, through traditional leafleting and posters as well as via social media.

Chairs and representatives should seek to find ways to retain the grassroots essence of projects. In some areas, the partnership engages two types of workers: one who is focused on growing the grassroots engagement, and one who is focused on strategic planning and work for the group. This combination of roles is crucial in ensuring the grassroots element of the Big Local in the area continues to thrive.


New Proposed Care Home.

A planning application has been put forward to the council to build a new care home on Merlin Way, next to the Tall Ships the description of the proposed development is a care building for 93 residents, constructed with traditional materials selected with reference to the surrounding structure. The home will contain associated administrative, ‘hotel’ and staff facilities. Parking is provided in two separate areas via new vehicular accesses from Merlin Way. Three landscaped amenity areas are provided for the benefit of residents, visitors and staff. The building is a mix of two and three storey structures, responding to the sloping nature of the site, maintaining a uniform ridge line.

How many empty care homes are sat in Hartlepool is it 3 or 4? And somebody wants to build another!

There has been a lot of objections to this and only 1 supporting letter, I believe the supporting letter came in the form of an email from the former ceremonial mayor & former councillor Paul Beck, the majority of complaints are the increased traffic flow due to the location and the area all ready been busy, the rest are as follows
Not right location
Land could be better used
Loss of property value
Privacy issues
Noise pollution
Inadequate parking
Previously rejected
Obscene size for the land
Blocking natural light
External company not having regard for the town

What are your thoughts @improvingH on twitter or Improving Hartlepool on Facebook

What Can One Town Do to Improve Education.


I’m going to read an article that was published in The New Statesman about this event and was written by Garrie Wotton who organised the event.

Searching for the Hartlepool Promise: One austerity-hit coastal town’s battle for its schools.

Being able to go to the toilet independently, or hold a pencil, are among the measures of “school readiness” used by Public Health England.

The coastal County Durham town of Hartlepool saw, in the latest year for which data is available, three in ten five-year-olds deemed below that expected standard – around 400 children.

Ofsted calculations suggest that it is very unlikely children failing this benchmark assessment will catch up in their later education.
This claim by Ofsted is borne out. The Department for Education figures for the last academic year suggest that three out of ten pupils in Hartlepool aged 11 fell behind the nationally expected standard on the KS2 tests. Again, this was around 400 children.

In the last academic year, six out of ten pupils aged 16 in Hartlepool failed to get a “strong” pass in both their English and Maths GCSEs – over 500 pupils.

On all three measures, the performance of pupils in receipt of free school meals was below that of their more advantaged peers.

There is little merit in making comparisons to other regions, other towns, or national statistics. (As it happens, Hartlepool outperforms the national average on some of those measures.)
The figures are of more interest in absolute terms: hundreds of children are making their way through the system, and being failed by it. In Hartlepool, there are hundreds of children potentially unable to hold a pencil at five, read fluently at 11, or be adequately numerate or literate at 16.

This isn’t a north-south divide, either, as some would have it. Professor Stephen Gorard of Durham University tracked the progress of 1.8 million pupils. He found no evidence that schools in the northeast were less effective. It is the socio-economic mix of a pupil body that dictates outcomes, not school effectiveness.

The much-lauded New Labour school improvement programme “London Challenge” was not the success it is painted as. The nominal success of London schools has more to do with the demographics than with the Challenge strategies.

London, in 2016, was the only region where disadvantaged students had a positive score on the new Progress 8 calculations. However, when you look at the performance of white disadvantaged students only, London fares as badly as everywhere else.

White working-class kids are being let down just as badly in Hackney as in Hartlepool; it’s simply the proportion of them that differs.

So, how to constitute a “Hartlepool Promise”, which could be replicated in other towns battling austerity? One that can deliver the nominal successes of the London Challenge, but without simply importing a vast number of students with English as an additional language? One that can deliver actual successes, particularly for the third of children living in poverty in Hartlepool? One that can combat almost a decade of austerity politics, and tinkering with school systems and curricula?

Aiming to devise a “Hartlepool Promise” to ensure learners in the town are best-equipped to live their lives successfully, a group of the town’s educators, governors, school leaders, councillors, council officers and parents gathered with the Hartlepool Fabians on Thursday 20 September. They were joined by Rob Coe of Durham University, Vivienne Porritt of #WomenEd, Stuart Kime of Evidence Based Education (formerly of the DfE), and Lil Collingham-Clark of TeachFirst.

The challenge was to work within the parameters of national policies and frameworks, and to work around the fragmentation of the system resultant from the academy programme.
There were two main strands: working with schools and practitioners to ensure they do their jobs better, and working to tackle the growing poverty and inequalities to make schools’ jobs easier in the first place.

There was wide recognition that, considering the cuts to school budgets, social care and social services, schools were doing an admirable job already. There was wide recognition that the council, facing enormous cuts to the central government grants, were being asked to do more with less.

Local responses to the recruitment and retention crisis were considered, as well as the use of robust evidence-informed practice to maximise the impact of what limited funding there is, the recruitment and training of governors in line with the Nolan principles, Early Years provision, and the mental health and well-being of the town’s young people.

A Hartlepool branch of #WomenEd was formed at the meeting’s close, with a view to supporting women in the workforce being 10 per cent braver, and to ensure the promotion of women better reflects the demographics of the profession at large.

Things are now in motion to launch this “Hartlepool Promise” whereby schools are best-placed to help their children and young people succeed. Depressingly, however, the fact remains that the single biggest determining factor of a child’s education successes is parental income.

Schools should be seen as the litmus test for social mobility and progress towards equality, rather than the engine room. Schools cannot mitigate for society. Alongside the work the town intends to do to improve the quality of education offered, much more work needs to be done to ensure Hartlepool’s young people grow up in an equal and prosperous society, and benefit fully from any and all wealth generated in the area.

Gary Wootton is a teacher and school governor in Hartlepool and founder of the Hartlepool Fabians.

Would it Work?

In this episode of Would It Work we look at if a luxury cinema in Hartlepool would be viable.

There is a cinema chain called Everyman cinema which in the past year or so took over an old Odeon cinema in York, I used to visit this cinema in my teenage years and lived over the road from it before moving up here, it is a beautiful building but at the same time stood empty was an eyesore, Reel purchased it and opened it back up, nothing special just a cinema, however the Everyman Cinema chain now has it and has transformed it, big comfy sofas, where you swap your soft drink for a nice glass of red wine and a slice of freshly made pizza and where the cinema feels almost like a home from home.


They spent 3 million transforming this cinema and the refurbishment saw the installation of

• Sofa seating
• A bespoke curved house bar
• Spielburger restaurant
• Four refurbished auditoria
• Equipped with Barco Digital Projectors and Dolby 7.1 sound.


There are four screens. Filmgoers there can order food and drink delivered to their seat. We have a very similar old building that once housed a cinema that’s stood empty and falling to bits, so what I’m asking is Would it Work.
@ImprovingH on Twitter or Improving Hartlepool on Facebook

Shop Local.

We now move on to the final segment of the podcast where I review a local business or service and, in this episode, I am reviewing One Stop at The Saxon Easington Road

This is my local shop, it sells everything you normally find in a local shop: fizzy pop, baby wipes, yogurts.

It’s cheap enough with great parking facilities, except for the people who park in the disabled bays so they have less to walk to use the cash machine or use the chippy next door which happens quite a bit, however the staff are so friendly and will go above and beyond to help, its always clean, tidy and pretty well stocked, definitely ten out of ten

Again, I will point out this is not an advert, I’ve not been paid to do it and they probably don’t even know I am reviewing them, it’s just my opinion as a customer.
I’ve been Steve & thanks for listening to Improving Hartlepool Podcast see you again on the next episode.

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