Overview of neighbourhood based groups and organisations
Here you will find descriptions of the different types of neighbourhood and place-based organisations that exist in the borough. A list of community centres and venues can be found in our A-Z area.
Parish councils are the most local tier of government. They represent the local community, and often provide services within their wards. There are around 10,000 parish and town councils in England and Wales. Cheltenham has 5 parish councils, and the rest of the borough is un-parished. Each council meets monthly and meetings are open to the public, although some items may be classed confidential and not detailed on the agendas, in which case public will be asked to leave temporarily. There is usually a slot in the agenda in which members of the public can ask questions or raise issues.
Representatives from Cheltenham's parish councils meet with the borough council quarterly at the C5 Parish Councils Group, held at the Municipal Offices. The working agreements and commitment to maintaining good relations between the parish and borough councils are set out in a document, the Cheltenham Charter. The charter is reviewed regularly, and was last refreshed in January 2013.
Community regeneration is about building hope and trust through providing a vision for the revitalisation of geographical areas of greatest need. It is foremost about building sustainable communities and improving people's quality of life. This is done through a co-ordinated approach to address social, economic and physical deprivation to include;
Improving the physical infrastructure,
Providing good quality affordable housing
Making places attractive
Skills development and enabling self sufficient
There are two regeneration partnerships in Cheltenham:
Neighbourhood Co-ordination Groups (NCGs)
Neighbourhood co-ordination groups were initially set up by the Police when neighbourhood policing was introduced. Cheltenham was divided into 14 areas and each area set up its own neighbourhood co-ordination group, made up of key individuals from within that community and relevant partner organisations. Communities have increasingly wanted to meet to talk about the whole range of issues, not just those that they need the help of the Police to resolve. Many of the groups are now run by community organisations within the area and have an independent chair. The purpose is to identify the issues of most concern to the community and for that community to work with local partners to provide long term solutions.
Representatives of the group engage with the community and the meetings are used to prioritise the most pressing matters to be addressed. The partner organisations involved in each group vary, but will usually include county, borough and parish councillors, key borough council officers, an area lead officer from the county council, members of the Local Policing Team, the local housing officer, local voluntary and community sector groups and members of the local community, including local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators.
Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch is a national charity which began in 1982. There is now a network of 160,000 neighbourhood watch schemes supported by regional co-ordinators. For information on Neighbourhood Watch visit their website.
Cheltenham scheme co-ordinators meet regularly and put out quarterly newsletters. There is also aCheltenham neighbourhood watch website which contains reports of crime and news items. If you would like to join or set up a scheme in your street, contact your area co-ordinator Will Carpenter.
Residents’ or tenants’ associations bring together people who live in the same area. Often associations are formed to tackle a specific issue in the neighbourhood, but they are not negative groups. Most of the jubilee street parties in 2012 were organised by neighbourhoods, and many associations organise social or fundraising events, environment improvements and improved neighbourhood safety. Residents associations are a good way of getting to know your neighbours and using the skills you all have to improve the area you live in.
The smallest association in Cheltenham comprises four households within one building, and the largest has over 200 members. Some meet monthly, others twice a year; there are no strict rules.
Cheltenham Borough Council will recognise any community group, whether it is constituted or not. Formal groups usually operate with a chairman, secretary and treasurer and meetings have an agenda and are minuted. The committee is usually elected on an annual basis. We hold a database of around 40 existing associations. To find your local association, or to notify us of one you are involved in, email firstname.lastname@example.org
'Friends of' groups
In Cheltenham we have a strong network of ‘friends of’ groups. These voluntary organisations are formed by local residents and people who use and feel strong connections to parks, gardens, buildings or areas. The groups fundraise and work to preserve and promote their area. These groups play a valuable part in the conservation of Cheltenham’s resources and character.
For contact details of ‘friends of’ groups, or for advice about setting one up, email or call 01242 250019.
Cheltenham has a network of volunteer flood wardens who keep an eye on known flooding hotspots, river levels, ditches and culverts, and report any concerns.
The local knowledge of these individuals is of key importance in preventing and minimising flooding in the borough. The network is made up of parish councillors and residents. Anybody can volunteer to be a flood warden. You will be briefed on your role and given information on flood risks to look for and who to report them to. Flood wardens receive no remuneration for their work, but the role should not take up much of your time. There are no meetings to attend. The role mainly requires observation and should fit into your daily routine. Although the demands of the role are small, the difference having an observant and effective flood warden can make is huge. In the extreme weather such as we experienced in 2012, reporting even a blocked drain which would otherwise go unnoticed can prevent the flooding of many homes.
Flood wardens do:
Watch their section of the river and report on changes to its condition
Inform when clearing or maintenance or repair needs to take place
Provide an early warning if the watercourse is rising - by keeping an eye on the watercourse and monitoring weather and flood warnings, a Flood Warden can recognise the risks of flooding in a particular area
Flood wardens could also:
Pass on messages about potential flooding to neighbours or the part of the community they cover and suggest that they take appropriate action to protect themselves and their property
Provide the emergency services with any important local information in the event of a flood, for example if you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours who may need assistance
Flood wardens do not:
Place him/herself at any risk or undertake any activity that places them in danger
Take responsibility for moving anyone's personal property
Take responsibility for protecting anyone's property
Provide sandbags or other flood protection equipment
Clear watercourses, ditches or culverts
Absolve riparian owners of their responsibility to clear and maintain watercourses
Go on to private property to monitor watercourses, although Flood Wardens could ask local people to keep them informed of any problems with watercourses running through their property
For further information or to register as a flood warden in your area, email the community services team.
If you are at all concerned about flooding, you can also read our advice on flooding.
Cheltenham is a world famous shopping destination, much celebrated for its independent shops, boutiques and bars and regency architecture. Across the town there are several associations of traders who grouped together to maximise the potential of their areas. These groups often form the heart of their neighbourhood, engaging with residents and putting on events for the local communities as well as visitors.