RESIDENTS are being urged to help improve a Henley estate.
Paula Isaac and David Eggleton want to set up a residents’ association for people living in the Gainsborough area.
They both live in Gainsborough Road and have already organised a number improvements, including planting flower beds and cherry trees, clearing drains and tidying a bus shelter.
Last week, they held a public meeting designed to come up with more ideas. More than 30 residents and a number of town councillors attended the meeting at the scout hut in Greys Road.
Mrs Isaac, 30, a mother-of-three, said: “We have other projects in mind but will need volunteers and funding.”
She said a residents’ association would help them obtain funding for larger projects.
“We’ve done little jobs, which have been paid for out of our own pockets, but it would be nice to apply for funding so we can go bigger and better,” she said.
Mrs Isaac, a teaching assistant at Badgemore Primary School, said the 210-home estate had a reputation for crime but most of the problems had been dealt with.
“It’s not as bad as people think,” she said. “It’s really lovely — we just need to promote that and get people talking again.
“A lot of people have said they don’t really know their neighbours so we want to get people together and speaking to each other.”
One idea is to use the car park in Gainsborough Hill to build a community hall and housing association Soha, which owns the site, is considering the idea.
Mr Eggleton, 55, said the hall could be used as an advice centre as well by the police and other organisations. It could also be hired out for private parties or used as a creche. He said: “It would a good thing for the community. It would be for people to drop in and have a cup of tea and a chat. Elderly people wouldn’t have to go down the hill into town for services.
“Some people say it would create noise and lead to people hanging around but you are always going to get people doing that.”
Other ideas suggested included creating a dropped kerb for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs, weeding pavements and building a caged multi-use sports court in Makins recreation ground.
Mr Eggleton said: “People ask me why I want to do this and say it’s the council’s job but at the end of the day if you leave it to other people, some jobs won’t get done.
“We’ve got to want things to happen. One person saying something won’t carry as much weight as if we get a majority of people supporting this.”
Councillor Kellie Hinton, who has worked with residents for Henley in Bloom, said Mrs Isaac and Mr Eggleton had funded many of the initiatives so far and had donated a lot of their time.
“Everyone should be grateful and I really want people to help them because what they’ve done for this estate is phenomenal,” she said.
“They can only keep momentum going if more people can get involved.”
Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said funding was available from Henley Town Council but stressed the importance of small projects such as planting apple trees.
He added: “If you’ve got 50 people chipping in 10 minutes of their time you’ve got an enormous amount of help but if it’s just two or three you aren’t going to get anywhere.
“The other thing that’s really important is that the community comes up with the ideas.”
Residents of the estate and The Close, which is opposite, have been given a survey to fill in about possible improvements. Mrs Isaac and Mr Eggleton will use the result to decide what to focus on.