New roving council officials aim to build bridges with Melton residents

Melton Council neighbourhood support officer Susan Oakes (left), Ross Levy and Lucie Browne EMN-180928-151556001
Melton Council neighbourhood support officer Susan Oakes (left), Ross Levy and Lucie Browne EMN-180928-151556001
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Melton residents who are unhappy about anti-social behaviour, dog fouling, fly-tipping or problems with their bin collections now have the option to approach one of the authority’s new roving community officials.

Three neighbourhood support officers have been taken on to talk to people in areas of the town where a number of issues have been reported, such as the town centre flats, the Fairmead Estate and streets in Egerton ward.

These locations are designated as ‘priority neighbourhoods’ by the council, which is hoping the new appointments succeed in breaking down barriers with residents and providing a more direct solution to their problems and concerns.

The officers set up a special surgery outside an unoccupied council property in New Street in the town on Friday morning and they will be visiting other key areas in the coming weeks.

One of them, Susan Oakes, previously worked as a police officer in Melton for a decade, and she believes engaging with residents face-to-face is the best way to tackle issues.

Susan (50) told the Melton Times: “It is really nice to work closely with people in neighbourhoods in the town that I live in.

“My family grew up here, I live and work here and it gives me a real sense of pride to see things improving and playing my part in all of this.”

Susan, who previously worked for the council as a community safety officer, added: “The council has really invested in something that has been lacking in the past.

“Building connections between residents and the council means people begin to trust you and we can hopefully make a difference to their lives.”

Lucie Browne is also passionate about her new role as a neighbourhood support officer and she said there has already been a positive response from people who have approached her.

“Some of the issues have been about social behaviour, drug use, environmental concerns, bin collections and dog waste,” said 37-year-old Susan.

“It’s really nice to have a chat with someone about something they are concerned about and then go back to them with a response.

“We are providing a friendly face people can approach to voice their concerns.”

The third member of the team is Ross Levy, who explained that the service they provide will be developed over time and be offered outside the town as well, in the villages of the borough.

Ross said: “The aim is for us to listen to residents, to build a rapport with people and gain an understanding of the areas they live in.

“We want to rebuild the bridges between the council and the residents and build a positive relationship.

“The methodology we use in the town will then be extended to the rest of the borough.”

Residents can contact neighbourhood support officers to flag up issues by calling 01664 502502 or emailing Ross at rlevy@melton.gov.uk, Susan at soakes@melton.gov.uk or Lucie at lbrowne@melton.gov.uk with the details.