‘Buckfastleigh – Where Next?’ – Report back…


‘Engaging our Community’ workshop

The town-council facilitated workshop held on the 12th October was very successful, with almost 50 local people turning out to find out how the Town Council was spending their money and to look at possibilities for resourcing projects and initiatives for the coming year and beyond. All this plus home-baked cakes!

This was the second annual event of this kind – a chance for residents to see clearly what the Town Council is already doing, to feedback what they would like to prioritise, and to work out ways of funding projects and doing them together.

In the last few years, cuts to county, district and national funding have got greater and more far-reaching, with the library, swimming pool, youth provision, childcare services and local hospital cut, closed or under threat.
The Council is made up of 12 committed volunteers who are working hard to keep our community healthy, happy and safe despite these cuts – but we have limited resources. We need everyone who can to join in, not only to figure out what we should be prioritising but also to find ways to get it done.


Town Council Role…

We discussed what the role of a the local council should be:

 Event poster

Event poster

1) Represent our community…

  • Liase with authorities – central & regional government, the Health Service, Police etc and pass on information that affects the community…
  • Advocate for the community (especially with these bodies)…

2) Work in partnership for community benefit…

  • With community groups, voluntary organisations, local authorities, neighbouring councils etc…
  • Help make resources, facilities, skills & funding available…
  • Support, facilitate & resource community-led initiatives…

3) Provide (limited) services & facilities directly to the community


Projects & Initiatives

Workshop participants put forward their ideas for projects that they felt were important and might take priority. These included a diverse range including:

Notes from one of the discussion groups

Notes from one of the discussion groups

  • A Youth Activity Program throughout the year…
  • A Town Ranger to take on doing jobs like repairs and organising groups of volunteers to clear paths for instance…
  • A Citizens Advice Bureau to be held locally once a week to advise residents…
  • Victoria Park and Pool running costs – for the new facilities to stay open now they are run by the town, the park needs to raise more money…
  • Air Ambulance Service – Building a landing site for the air ambulance in Buckfastleigh by upgrading the floodlights at the football club…
  • Solar Panel installation on community buildings – The council has obtained free solar panels and these could be mounted on community buildings to save money and cut our carbon-footprint
  • A Community (mini)Bus service that runs out of hours…
  • Improved Car Parking facilities in the town…
  • A Council Allotment provision…

…all these things and more are possible – they require only funding and people to manage them.

Spending and income

tc-expenditure_finalWe looked at how much Council Tax income is being raised for the Town Council (£64,000 this year – a rough average of £43 per annum per Council Tax-paying household or less than a pound per week)* and how it is being spent. We also looked at the cost of some of the projects that people had proposed and how they could be financed.

Although groups in Buckfastleigh have been able to bring in over half a million pounds of grants to make structural improvements this year (Victoria Park/Swimming Pool/Skate park and Flood defences for instance), maintaining ongoing services will require other sources of funding, so we looked at how much it would cost to fund some of these by increasing the amount of Council Tax charged to local residents. The future of the swimming pool, for instance, could be guaranteed for a mere 25p per household per week… A youth activity programme with 10 activity events a year for young people, would cost each household 10p a week* (*These figures are based on the average, Band B, council tax payer in the parish).
Feedback from participants of the evening was overwhelmingly positive – examples: ‘Clear, inspiring and generous’, ‘Good event – this is just the start!’, ‘Brilliant. A great forum that looks like it can have an impact’ – the only criticism by a couple of people was that it went on longer than it should have – point noted for next time!

The Town Council would like to thank everyone who participated and contributed their views and invites everyone in the community to join in if they can. We would love to hear your comments by email (clerk@nullbuckfastleigh.gov.uk ) or on Facebook (‘Buckfastleigh Town Council’) and keep an eye open for more events where you can get involved. We will have a stall at the Christmas Fair in the Town Hall on 7th December 4-8pm and welcome your ideas there.

You can download the presentation materials used at the workshop (which contain charts etc.) Here