‘Our Place’ plan to give Dunstable estate a feel-good factor

Mayfield Centre, Dunstable
Mayfield Centre, Dunstable

People living on Dunstable’s Downside estate are more concerned about health and GP services and the amount of crime than anything else, a survey has revealed.

Council officers spent two weeks asking residents, businesses and community groups about local problems and needs. The survey was part of the Our Place programme, a government scheme giving people more power to make their neighbourhood a better place.

Of those questioned at Downside, 68 per cent said that crime concerned them and 45 per cent had worries about health services.

But Dunstable Town Council heard this week that the Downside Our Place development strategy had been successful and work will now start on an operational plan.

This involves the initiative’s partners working closely with residents in the design and delivery of services to tackle financial hardship and health and wellbeing.

It will include:

> Training of community champions by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

> The creation of residents forums for health, unemployment, housing and benefits.

> The pilot of an evening Citizens Advice Bureau surgery.

Other key findings of the survey were that 55 per cent of people use the estate’s Mayfield Centre when seeking information and advice; 33 per cent found transport and access a problem when trying to get guidance and 51 per cent said that having access to advice after 5pm and at weekends would help.

The Our Place programme is a partnership between Dunstable Town Council, Central Beds Council, the voluntary and community sector, JobCentre Plus and the Chiltern Vale Clinical Commissioning Group.

Cllr Nigel Young, chairman of the Dunstable Joint Committee, said: “During times when finances with the public sector are tight and heavily scrutinised, the efforts of the partnership proves the commitment to deliver local services for local people as efficiently and effectively as possible.

“It is so important for this work to have maximum effect for residents of Downside to get involved and I very much hope that many of them will.”