In need of more help

THE CHAIRMAN of a Cotmanhay community group has called on partners including Erewash Borough Council, schools and police to listen to what his organisation has to say.

After reading in last week’s Advertiser our call to arms when it was revealed Cotmanhay has some of the country’s highest deprivation levels, Action4Cotmanhay’s John Allen told us the answer to the area’s problems lies in working together to bring back some community spirit.

John, 56, has worked in the Cotmanhay community and others across Erewash since the mid-1970s with Erewash Borough Council and Three Valleys housing, but now chairs the group of volunteers, formerly known as the Cotmanhay Neighbourhood Management Group (CNMG).

“We are only a small group,” he said, “And we have only got a small amount of money to spend.

“When it was CNMG we used to have a lot of support from the partnership.”

He said partners – which include both Erewash and Derbyshire councils, Three Valleys, police and Derbyshire Primary Care Trust – need to meet with Action4Cotmanhay on a more regular basis.

“We know what the problems are and we can direct partners to those problems,” he added.

And he feels that private landlords renting homes in Cotmanhay to people from as far away as Derby has fractured community spirit.

“Back when I started working in the area, everyone knew each other,” he explained.

“Private landlords should come under Erewash Borough Council’s remit so they can keep an eye on who moves into the houses and make sure they are looked after. Then we might get some success.”

John also said schools have a big part to play.

“Cotmanhay junior and infant schools are doing a good job with activities – one thing that stands out is the Breakfast Club,” he said.

“I was invited along to see how it works and found a lot of hard work a small group of people do to feed the children on a small budget.

“The new trust that will run Bennerley School needs to empower the children through a school council that will report on issues where they live so that they get used to filling out forms and get to meet people in groups while seeing their area improve.”

But above all he urged people not to get too downhearted about the issues within Cotmanhay.

“Many a successful person was born on a council estate, so it’s not all doom and gloom,” he added.

What do you think can be done to help Cotmanhay? Write to 8 Heanor Road, Ilkeston, DE7 8ER or email news@ilkestonadvertiser.co.uk.