SSEN funding helps to pave the way for Blewbury pedestrians this winter

Man cutting undergrowth with chainsaw

Residents and visitors to an Oxfordshire village will be able to make their way home safely on the village’s footpaths over the festive season and winter months, thanks to Blewbury Parish Council and funding provided by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN). 

Earlier this year, Blewbury Parish Council applied to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund, which supplies grants of up to £20,000 to communities to help them become more robust and resilient in the face of adverse weather, emergency situations or power cuts.

The parish council is dedicated to keeping the village’s pathways and access areas clear through an ongoing programme of tree inspection, maintenance and the clearing of stream debris to prevent localised flooding, and had applied to the fund for just over £2,670 to enhance their existing operation.

The grant has enabled them to buy a generator, water pump, emergency lighting and associated kit, and a trailer to transport it when they have to attend to an issue in the village. Vitally, the funding has also covered the cost of required Health and Safety training for the village’s maintenance man, who operates the equipment that helps to keep the village running smoothly.

Blewbury sits within SSEN’s Ridgeway region and Head of Region, Ian Reynolds was delighted see the village awarded: “This is such a great example of how a community can be enhanced by the use of equipment and a maintenance programme that literally keeps the village mobile by ensuring that footpaths and walkways are kept clear and easily accessible.

“Safety is a key priority for SSEN, so it’s wonderful to see how the Resilient Communities Fund is helping improve the safety of Blewbury’s pedestrians throughout the festive season and the darker winter nights.”

Chris Lakeland, Chair of Blewbury Parish Council added: “Blewbury Parish Council is extremely grateful to SSEN for their generous grant which enables us to fulfil our contribution to both our local and  the overall Oxfordshire emergency plan. Climate is changing and we have seen frequent heavy rain events, so this grant could not have come at a better time.”

Set up in 2014 as a two-year pilot scheme, SSEN has pledged to extend the fund to 2023 using a proportion of the income it receives from the industry regulator Ofgem in relation to its stakeholder engagement performance. Based on 2015/16 figures, this would allow funding in the region of £2m to be distributed to community-led groups and charities in central southern England over the six-year period. 

In addition to the Resilient Communities Fund, SSEN has been working closely with local communities in the south east of England, helping them create resilience plans for emergencies, such as adverse weather and possible power disruption during winter storms.

SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund will re-open for applications in the spring of 2019. To find out more about the fund, please visit the website:
www.ssen.co.uk/Resiliencefund/