Council pledges to act on 'thoughtful' recommendations of Growth Commission
- Credit: Vision Redbridge, Culture and Leisure
Prioritising green growth, utilising the borough's diversity and maximising learning opportunities were amongst the recommendations made to the council in a recently-released report by the Redbridge Growth Commission.
The commission, set up by the council in July last year, has produced its findings after a three-month consultation period with more than 200 people and 30 organisations in the borough.
The Growing Redbridge Together report outlines seven recommendations which are now with the council for its consideration.
The first of these asks the council to make clear its vision for growth.
After the report's release, the Recorder spoke to commissioner Yashmin Harun BEM, who explained what informed this particular recommendation: "People want things to be open and transparent. Through consultation we concluded the council needs to open up its communication channels more.”
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The second recommendation asks for green growth to be at the heart of that vision, something which Yashmin - given her capacity as chair of the Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) - is well placed to comment on, saying: “I don’t believe we fully utilise the greenspace that we have.”
Recommendations three, four and five each advances the importance of community involvement. This speaks to one of the overriding conclusions reached during the consultation: people simply want to have a say in what happens on their doorstep.
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The third specifically references the need to better utilise the borough's diversity when looking at community collaboration. This is particularly important to Yashmin, who urged the final report to make this more of a focal point than a previous draft: "The diversity here, and how we live side by side, should be celebrated. We have such a strong community here and I wanted that reflected in the report."
The fourth recommendation requests that the community be more involved in driving development standards in the borough. There is a general acceptance amongst residents that housing is required but the consultation found that many feel the process for scrutinising applications isn't publicised enough.
With land at a premium in the borough, the fifth recommendation requests that some of that available be opened up for community ownership.
This aims to make people feel tethered to the area, and to feel that not all land is reserved for external development.
According to Yashmin, this recommendation is founded in the reality that there are currently "a lot of community groups who feel like they are ignored".
The consultation uncovered an abundance of local groups, many of whom - despite their contribution to Redbridge - don't feel seen by the council.
Giving these groups more of a presence should help to "bridge the gap" that currently exists at local authority and grassroots level.
The final two recommendations relate to giving people the tools they need to be a tangible part of the borough's growth.
Number six asks for the creation of learning, skills and job opportunities, while number seven requests that space be created for community-led businesses to grow.
The seven recommendations are a reflection of the prevailing feeling within Redbridge - locals want to know how their community will grow, they want to feel seen, and they want to be given the chance to play their part in that sustainable growth.
With the commission now disbanded, Yashmin reflects on an enriching experience: "A lot of good things are happening, but the way it’s communicated could be better. I picked up new skills, and learned so much from my fellow commissioners.”
Following the release, council leader Councillor Jas Athwal paid tribute to Yashmin and fellow "brilliant commissioners" Sophia de Sousa, Bethia McNeil, David Ubaka, Mandeep Kaur and Sir Steve Bullock.
He welcomed the team's "thoughtful recommendations" and said the council is "committed to putting these into action": "As a borough we have so much to offer, but it’s important local people play a key role in shaping our future."
Chairperson Sophia added: "As the commissioners step away, our hope is that these recommendations plant the seeds for a more engaged, participatory and collaborative approach to delivering good, green and sustainable growth in Redbridge that you can nurture.”