Tell us how to spend money

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RESIDENTS in Leigh West have just one last chance to have their say in how they would spend £1m to improve their local area.

So far, more than 700 people have given their thoughts on how they think their neighbourhood should be shaped over the course of the next 10 years - but time is running out.

The last of a series of Planning for Real community consultations is due to take place on Thursday, September 8 between 9am and 4pm on the corner of Walmesley Road and Bengal Street, next to Leigh CE Infants School.

This final opportunity for residents to have their say follows on from previous sessions that have taken place in a range of public locations – from the Town Hall square and Leigh Library to local schools, churches and youth groups.

The Planning for Real consultation is a fun process in which local participants use an eye-catching three-dimensional model of their local area as a visual prompt. This portable ‘hands on’ tool encourages local people of all backgrounds to express their ideas openly in an easily-accessible format, and then allows them to prioritise these ideas based on local needs.

The process also gives residents the chance to meet with service providers and stakeholders and to pitch their suggestions directly to planners and decision-makers.

The Planning for Real sessions have been laid on as part of the Leigh Neighbours community development project, an ongoing campaign which aims to improve access to local opportunities and resources, to nurture the community leaders of tomorrow and to help create a more cohesive community.

The area is one of 50 neighbourhoods in England set to benefit from at least £1 million National Lottery money as part of the Big Local programme. The results of the Planning for Real consultation exercise will inform how this funding is invested in the area over the next ten years.

Council Leader and local ward member, Lord Peter Smith, said: “This investment is excellent news because it will enable the partnership, formed between residents, ward councillors, Citizens Advice Bureau, council and other agencies, to deliver projects which we would not normally be able to fund in these financially challenging times.”

The money will not be held locally by the Council, but held in trust by the Citizens Advice Bureau who are partners in the Leigh Neighbours project. A Community Plan will shortly be drawn up to illustrate how the money will be spent, and to demonstrate how the ideas and views of local people have been used to drive the planning process.

Christopher Harris, manager for the Citizens Advice Bureau, says: “What matters is that as many people as possible come forward with their views and suggestions – remember this is you opportunity to influence how the money is spent in your neighbourhood.”

To find out more, contact Stephen Ruffley, Leigh Neighbours Project Officer, on 01942 709709.