Farley Hill is set to receive at least £1million from the Big Lottery fund as it is named one of the UK’s ‘forgotten communities’.
The area was chosen by the National Lottery’s Big Local project as one of the 150 ‘needy’ places that have previously been overlooked for funding and investment, and that face issues including high levels of unemployment and crime.
Farley ward councillor Sian Timoney said it was a “fantastic opportunity” for Farley and that she was “delighted” with the news.
She said: “I don’t think I would describe Farley as a forgotten community but of course it has had its challenges over the years. This funding will be used on local initiatives with local people deciding on the priorities. We can build on the successful Your Say Your Way initiative as a process for delivering local projects chosen by local residents.”
Some of the issues identified by Big Local researchers in Farley Hill were residents wanting to reduce fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, wanting more activities for low income families, and wanting more activities for young people to keep them from getting into trouble.
Farley Hill had an average of 279 crimes a month for the past 12 months, with the majority being anti-social behaviour offences, burglary, violent crime, criminal damage and arson.
The unemployment rate for Farley is 5.2 per cent; this is higher than the Luton figure of 4.5 per cent and the national figure of 3.8 per cent.
Councillor Timoney said: “Farley does have some issues with unemployment, health problems and perhaps a lack of things for young people to do so. This funding will allow us to get some great projects going that will help improve the lives of Farley residents. It really is the most exciting news Farley has had in a long time and I look forward to working with local residents to decide how we can use the funds most effectively.”
If Farley Hill gets the minimum amount of £1million, the money will work out as about £100 per resident, to be spent over ten years.
Big Local, which is run by Big Trust, will be working with a range of partners to help spend the money and intends “to make a massive and lasting positive difference to communities”.
It’s about “bringing together all the local talent, ambitions, skills and energy from individuals, groups and organisations who want to make their area an even better place to live”.
It’s not the first time an estate in Luton has been given funding to improve their local area.
In 2001, The New Deal for Communities (NDC) scheme saw £50m pumped into Marsh Farm over ten years, intended for regeneration of the 1960s housing estate.
Concerns were raised over how the money was spent, and the Marsh Farm Community Development Trust defended itself against allegations that it had mismanaged its multi-million pound budget and let down the community it was supposed to help.
The Big Local fund for Farley will give them not only the money, but also support, training, and networking opportunities.
It’s not a council initiative but a Luton council spokesperson said it would be happy to help in any way it can.
The spokesman said: “The scheme is completely resident-led so it will be entirely up to people of Farley to use money on the things that matter to them, and projects and services that will have the biggest impact to make their area an even better place to live now and in the future.”
Residents from the area who would like to get involved are invited to contact the Local Trust on 020 7812 5456 or email info@local trust.org.uk.
What you’re saying on our Facebook page:
Michael Shore: “Could spend it on a better place, why don’t they use it to build more houses?”
Jo Rainbow: “Good luck to them spruce up the area and get the crime rates down.”
Nicola Nelson: “Could it not be spread across the town?”
Jennifer Inglis: “As long as the council don’t say what it to be spent on like flowers etc community centre needs updating, inject money into Farley boxing club, computer courses for residents and also a mobile unit for residents that are house bound but want to learn computers.”
Rehan Khan: “Spend it on kids and their education, let’s leave a better generation behind us.”