Extra government cash allocated to ease pressures on local services from influx of migrants

By Ben Fitzgerald - 31 July 2017


More than a quarter of a million pounds in extra funding has been allocated to meet the increased pressure on local services in the Broadgreen area of Swindon resulting from recent migration to the area.

The Council has been awarded £278,700, from the Government’s Controlling Migration Fund (CMF), which aims to help ease the pressures on local services such as housing, schooling and health services.

The funding has been secured to help tackle a variety of issues, one of which relates to the safety of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) in Central Swindon, particularly around housing and fire inspections following the tragic fire in Manchester Road last November.

In the wake of the fire, 1,000 properties were visited in the local area, with almost 200 homes being fitted with smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. But Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service were unable to gain access to a large number properties.

The Government funding will pay for four Safe and Well officers, who will work with the Council’s Environmental Health Team and offer key safety advice to landlords and tenants as well as taking enforcement action where necessary.

The team will also offer free fire detection equipment, targeted welfare adaptations and provide support to enable individuals to remain living independently in safe conditions.

Wider environmental hazards such as fly tipping and waste management will also be a focus of the team and gating a number of rear alleyways to improve security as well as utilising mobile CCTV cameras are among the measures being considered.

Part of the funding will be used to encourage recent migrants to attend courses to improve their English language skills. The Council’s Adult Community Learning service has already enrolled 368 individuals on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and there are plans to train additional volunteers to support informal social English clubs in their community, following a successful pilot project with New College.

Cllr Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “This funding will help us build on the great work that is already taking place in Central Ward and allow us to engage even further with our migrant communities to improve their local environment and deliver crucial safety messages.

“The projects outlined in our funding bid will also deliver improved community cohesion and promote civic pride so local people take more responsibility for their neighbourhoods.”

The CMF was launched in November last year and allows local authorities in England to bid for funding totalling £100 million over four years from 2016 to 2017, to 2019 to 2020. Swindon’s funding will be split over the next two years.

Cllr Bob Wright, ward councillor for Central Ward, said: “The increasing demand for low cost housing has led to a growth in house sharing and overcrowding in Central Ward.

“This grant will enable a response to poor living conditions and the associated health and safety issues. I welcome the project initiative as a step towards improving and maintaining living standards and at the same time delivering wider community benefits.”

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