Talavera: ‘It feels neglected around here’
Today's report on Northamptonshire's 'left-behind' areas comes from Talavera in Northampton
By Natalie Bloomer
Every few days residents on the Thorplands estate in the Talavera ward of Northampton go out and sweep up leaves. The area is made up of small courts, each lined with houses, a parking area and several large trees. The greenery is nice but come autumn, fallen leaves cover the pathways making them slippery and dangerous for children and older people.
“Me and the kids go out regularly to move the leaves, and so do my neighbours. We have to or it would be dangerous for people,” Emma, 32, says.
Emma has lived in and around Thorplands for 21 years. She says there are lots of small issues in the area that could be dealt with relatively easily but collectively they lead to a feeling that the area is forgotten about.
“It feels neglected around here. As well as the leaves, we have problems with litter and fly- tipping, there aren't enough parking spaces for the amount of people who live in the courts and there are lots of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) which add to all those problems.”
She points to the house opposite and says there are six or seven adults living there, at the end of the same block she says is another HMO with a similar number of people.
Jodie, Emma’s next door neighbour comes out of her house and leans against their shared fence, she says the community pushes for things to be improved but that it’s always a battle.
They tell us to speak to Ivor in the next court, who along with a friend set up a litter picking group on the estate during lockdown.
Ivor, a taxi driver, lives in a three storey house common on estates like this built in the 1970s. In the hallway is a mobility scooter belonging to his wife.
“We started the litter picking group because the council couldn’t get out to do it because of Covid, now eight of us go out regularly. Recently we teamed up with the Northamptonshire Wombles (who litter pick across the county) and cleared 56 bags of rubbish from the brook.
“We’re doing the council’s job for them really. It would be nice to have some recognition, a thank you would go a long way given how much money we must have saved them.”
He says whenever they are out collecting rubbish they see furniture which has been fly-tipped and needs reporting to the council.
To try to tackle fly-tipping, local people set up a Facebook page where residents can advertise that they have something free to collect. The idea was that this would stop as many people dumping things. But Ivor says more needs to be done and that it can feel like “you’re constantly swimming upstream”.
“It feels like we’re let down by the council, look at the situation with the leaves, it doesn’t sound like a big problem but they wouldn’t let the paths around Abington Park stay like that, so why do they here?”
A major issue for Ivor and others in the area is the possible loss of a nearby green space known as Fraser Park. NN Journal has previously reported on how Northamptonshire Partnership Homes is hoping to develop affordable housing on the site.
“Fraser Park is my biggest concern at the moment,” Ivor says.
“If the community loses that space it will be a travesty, and it worries me that it opens the door to more pocket parks on this side of town being looked at for development. I’ve lived here 17 years, my kids grew up using that park - we don’t want the children here living in a concrete jungle. It’s like the council just doesn't care though.”
The week before NN Journal visited the estate, a small protest against the plans was held outside a West Northamptonshire Council meeting. Local councillor Dennis Meredith presented a petition and put forward a motion which could have seen the local authority review the decision to build on the park and explore alternative brownfield locations. However, the motion was not passed.
Cllr Meredith says if the development goes ahead, he and other campaigners will camp out on the site and chain themselves to the trees. He is also raising money for play equipment which he hopes can be installed on the site if the plans are stopped.
Both he and Cllr Janice Duffy, who has also been active in the campaign to save the park, came in for some criticism from local Conservatives because they say the plans were consulted on in 2017 under the Local Plan Part 2 and both councillors voted for that plan.
But the residents we speak to seem more concerned about what is happening now - and the loss of this green space is something many fear will have a negative impact on the community.
The ward of Talavera includes several large estates on the eastern side of Northampton. It is one of five ‘left behind’ areas in Northamptonshire and according to a report from an All-Party Parliamentary Group, it has the lowest amount of sports and leisure facilities in the whole country.
The estates in the ward vary as do the issues people face but the one thing which is mentioned again and again is fly-tipping.
Martin Derosario is the chair of the Blackthorn and Goldings residents association in Talavera. He says he would like to see neighbourhood wardens on the estates who are able to fine people who dump their rubbish.
“It’s the big issue that people talk about here and it needs to be prevented rather than just being cleared away once it’s there. If people knew they would get a fine, they would think twice. This is something that the council needs to deal with but people need to do their part as well. We all have a role to play in making things better.”
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