Despite foul weather, the lure of home-baked cakes and a chance to talk to the Council and neighbours about their concerns and ideas for the town, brought residents to the Town Hall for the workshop, where Andy Stokes, the chair of the Town Council kicked off with an introduction to the role of the Town Council and explained how it spends their council tax.
Participants then set up and got into discussion groups – on the diverse topics of Mental Health, Young People, Climate & Environment, Business Development & Older People – to share what they thought the community did well in these areas, what the gaps were and any ideas they had for improvement and growth.
Proposals with the most support were an all-weather multi-use sports facility, a community bus to help older people and those without transport in and out of the town centre and a support group for people with mental health issues. Other great ideas included matinee cinema screenings for old and young and developing apprenticeships in local businesses to develop employment opportunities.
After the workshop, Andy said, “As a council, we don’t have the manpower and resources to do everything that is put forward at these workshops but it is great to look back and notice how many do actually happen. For instance, last year people suggested electronic noticeboards to help communicate information about events and a community fridge for free food for those who need it – the E-noticeboards are already springing up around town with one in Searles and another in the B Buckfastleigh ‘Living Room’ window and the Community Fridge is also in place and almost ready to go, also in the Living Room (thanks to The Seed’s kind donation).
Pam Barrett, Deputy Chair added, “We have just run free facilitation & leadership training as part of our community development program. Councillors who have finished that course and helped facilitate the workshop, are now eager to take it out to the community so that we can get a bigger picture of what things we should be prioritising and helping people with. We can’t just expect everyone to turn up at the Town Hall when we want them to – if we want to know what people think we need to go to them. So if you are involved with a group and would like us to bring this discussion to you, let us know.”
You can see the presentation from the workshop here