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Steering Group Meeting 12th February 2020

Hello all.

This is a really quick post to let you all know that the steering group for Torridge Common Ground will be meeting up at the Joiners Arms on Wednesday evening at 7pm, (That's on the 12th of February) where there will be general discussions going on about what we have planned in the future and what other considerations we can think about when moving forward over the coming years.

If you would like to come along and talk about what you would like to see happen then please do so, we need your input!!




Torrington peoples Assembly

Hello and welcome to you all.

Here at TCG we are looking to grow communities and to span out across the Torridge area, our aim is simply to get out there and listen first hand to your opinions ind then follow this up within the councils we represent.

Please do come along to the Torridge Vale Social Club on the 28th January from 7pm til 9pm, take your opportunity to voice your ideas and your thoughts on anything that can improve your community.

People’s Assembly Northam 28th November 2019

How Can we Make Vibrant Local Communities?

1. Is our vote worthwhile? (Jon)

Our group was small (2 people), which perhaps reflects the fatigue and distrust of the political system at the moment. There’s been overkill and people are fed up. We have never felt really represented by candidate MPs and have never felt sure that our votes would effect the outcome of an election.

We don’t normally know our political candidates personally and there may a need, in this information rich world, for MPs to be more connected to their constituency and their constituents.

Politicians are seen to change their position – as demonstrated in the Lib Dems abandoning their position re Article 50 – and as such endanger the trust of the public.

Do we need more women MPs? Are they more honest / responsible?

Many of us find ourselves in political echo chambers on social media and among friends. While it is important that TCG is non-party political, connecting people of different political persuasions, is it possible for us to have political conversations?

Eleanor suggested that we could have a regular group to discussing politics – trying to keep people up to date with different perspectives and opinions. Perhaps sharing information from different media across the country, across Europe and the globe.

The First Past the Post system is outdated but can we see PR happening in the UK?

We take optimism from the idea of small parishes and towns working under a system like Flatpack Democracy, linking together to make local authorities redundant.

Can TCG represent people on a county (Devon Common Ground?) and a national lever as an anti-party party?

2. How can we help people to feel more involved in the wellbeing of their community? (Marianne)

How do we show people who are feeling isolated from our community that they have worth and that we want to hear their voice? (Kaye)

There are many people in Northam who are isolated and would benefit from a cultural hub – a community ‘encounter’, a positivity café.

Could we approach Torridge volunteer services to each locals who have declared themselves fragile or isolated? And Torridge community van hire, to transport people to and from a get together?

Morwenna Park has a community room with a kitchen that could be a useful venue. The Mermaid’s Teacup Cafe, is going to be reopening which could be a potential venue. (NB this is no longer happening but if anyone is interested, the owners are keen to support such an initiative)

There was a call for a Northam Community page on Facebook or another platform.

Not everyone does social media but behind every face there is a story. By listening to people we can learn about each other and help people to feel valued members of a community. So how about a storytelling space for adults with an emphasis on recounting times in our lives when something positive occurred?

There was interest to bring generations together – how can we attract kids and teenagers too?

We could host affordable activities for children and adults – e.g. drama classes, chess clubs and ‘pop up’ activities like doing the conga on the street.

How can we encourage people to feel good about themselves – motivational chalking, flash mobs, the hello campaign (say hello to a stranger once a day).

3. There is evidence to suggest that in 30 years time, sea level rise will affect communities in Northam, Appledore and Bideford – what do we do? (Sue)

We need to make sure that town and district councils recognise the climate emergency – they may have made public statements, but how are they putting this into practice?

People from Extinction Rebellion and all who are concerned, can put pressure on councils to act. TCG councillors can help to ensure that they listen and continue to exert pressure.

XR are going to give a talk on Climate Change, which could be shared with the council.
Torridge District Council - Peter Christie and Peter Hames are both Green councillors – Peter Hames is also the Lead Member for Climate Change.

What are the plans to build on flood zones?

The people are kept in the dark as much as possible around planning and development and people need to take more of an interest to make sure that things become more transparent. Some committees have more power than others - Let’s challenge the Community and Resource Committees at Torridge District Council and North Devon District Council.

How do we challenge the council? As people who have relevant knowledge and then tackle the council when equipped with useful information and strategy.

We can make sure that Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wildlife Trust and other organisations are kept aware of potential developments.

We discussed demonstrations and public action – however we must wok to make sure that we don’t alienate people and appear to be acting politically. Most people who take to the streets are left leaning.

We need to start growing our own food to make sure that we can become more self sufficient and offset problems due to food shortages.

The energy network is already very fragile – can we build community owned energy coops?

4. Let’s work to make every community in Torridge sustainable in terms of food, transport and social housing (Jeremy)

A survey of housing needs is required for us to understand how much and what types of housing are required.

All new-build housing must be carbon neutral – built to Passivhaus standard with solar panels on the roof etc.

Build council houses to this standard also, so that less well-off people do not have heating bills.

Local authorities need to plant millions of trees – Devon County Council should provide the land. District and town councils get local people involved to sow trees seeds, grow saplings, plant trees. The result is that the council feels supported and people feel that their council is engaging with them.

Plant swaps – increasing biodiversity in our gardens and sharing information and skill around plants and trees – perhaps at No More Miles Market?

Future of transport – how can we encourage people to use public transport, to walk and cycle?

The future is with Hydrogen rather than electric. Electric cars will still cause traffic jams and will still require significant energy.

How do we persuade people to move away from a car based economy? There’s an important social aspect to public transport, which helps to connect people together.

Let’s build more cycle paths, walkways and green corridors.

5. Is there a desire in this community to (re)connect with wider nature? (Pete)

What if we lived in a sustainable, supportive & resourceful community? (Maya)

What would tit look like? – A localised, circular economy, where folk are confident to share their passions.

We would be aware if our needs and match these to resources / assets.

More local artisans especially around food production with food co-ops helping people to get what they need and to sell locally.

More sharing – transport, tools, food surplus etc.

More wilding, with wild spaces connected with corridors to help species to travel and increase gene pools.

Walking groups to learn how to identify edible plants, nature appreciation etc.

When the weather improves, let’s have People’s Assemblies Outside so that we can think more actively about the nature around us.

6. How do we help people who have difficulty in getting things repaired and reduce waste? (Stephen)

Can we have litter disposal that is segregated? (Eleanor)

Can we have a day where we drop off furniture to share in a location?

The Northam Encounters event to host a repair corner where Stephen (and others?) can offer their services. This would be on the understanding that the item may be beyond help!

The Men’s Shed in Torrington is also a place where people can work together and learn new skills.

In the spring (when weather improves) there could be a furniture drop off outside the hall, in the carpark for people to take away, mend, reupholster etc.

An equipment noticeboard could help people to share tools and other equipment, perhaps leading to some kind of swap shop?

How does Torridge District Council dispose of their recycling? Is our rubbish separated effectively and therefore useful? Can it be better, more economical, safe, sustainable?

Let’s get creative about swapping – e.g. a Lett’s scheme in which people can swap services, like baby sitting.

Other questions:

Can we have an organic local pub with local ales at the Golden Lion?

Can we have a place to gather vegetables for the needy?

Can we start a book group at the library?

Could we have an artisan organic baker in Northam?



Come along and enjoy a festival of creativity, activities and stalls for the festive season at the Northam Community Centre in Northam on Saturday December 21st from 11am onwards.

Lots of table top goods, local food and produce, Crafts, Christmassy workshops and community information tables to enjoy, something for everyone and family friendly so bring the kids! Free Mince Pies and Mulled wine being served from our pop-up Cafe.

There will be a Bring and share lunch from 2pm onwards in the main hall followed by entertainment – Open platform - share a story, song or poem. All of that and more!

Note For Table Top Sellers - Tables will be allocated on a first come first serve basis so if you would like to have a space or know someone who would, get in touch asap to confirm your place.

If you would like to find out more contact Daniel – 0781 4899960


Northam Community Encounters Collaboratory

‘A cross-community space where we can all come together and re-imagine a more connected sustainable future’. 

If we are to transition to a more participatory and connected form of community life and governance, we need to prepare the ground to unleash a whole new energy and readiness to do things in a different way.

What would the first steps look, feel taste and sound like in order to bring this about?

Creating an open shared space in our villages/towns where everyone in the community can come together. This space would be underpinned by a celebratory informal approach, seeking to build trust, connection and resilience and full of opportunities for people to be creative and rewild their imaginations with new possibilities. In this space parts of people which have been fractured by the extreme atomization of our culture can begin to come alive again and awaken from their dormancy.

Through creating these generous and open celebratory spaces in our communities we can begin to find areas of collaboration and mutual decision making about the issues that matter and effect us the most.

This  could take place within the wider festival setting in which people could come to indirectly without the common baggage and paraphernalia we normally come to associate within the political setting.

The space could host a diverse range of events, stalls, performances, games, workshops, forums, acting as a platform to weave our local community’s together.

Some possibilities for this could include the following:

  • Café:

Serving fresh local food and refreshments.

  • Local food, Produce and domestics:

 100% organic fresh fruit and veg, eggs, honey, jams, bread, eggs, soaps, washing products.

  • Bazaar:

Encouraging various forms of economic exchange and upcycling useful products such as books, seeds, clothes.

  • The Community Forum where ideas and views can be exchanged through various containers such as:

Empathy Circles that give people the chance to be heard       properly, often for the first time in their lives. 

Death Cafes to help people face and transform their grief about what is happening.

       Open space events for generating new ideas   

       People’s assemblies

  • Information and awareness raising stalls:

Ex – 361 energy, Ecocide.

  • Village/town partner stalls:

local groups, organizations and businesses ex Northam town    council climate group, XR, Northam men’s forum, Men’s shed.

  • Enterprise Platform:

where people can put forward ideas for new enterprises to an audience in support of local projects with money, time, space, advice, skills to offer.

  • Re-skilling and Rewilding the Imagination workshops:

                    exfood preserving, soap making, Introduction to Permaculture.

  • Play zone:

Exwhere chess, scrabble and poker competitions

  • Arts Performance:

 Each month would finish with a performance relating to the particular theme of the event ex a film showing, Music, Dance, Poetry, Storytelling, Comedy and Theatre performance.

Other possibilities could include:

  • Knitting circles that give you something else to focus on while you’re building subtle bonds of trust. 
  • Swish clothes events
  • Gift circles

Moreton Court Play Area

I have had some contact with the residents of the Moreton Court area in Bideford west, this is the new development area opposite Londonderry Farm along Abbotsham Road.

There appears to be ongoing concerns that the play area and the open green space isn't to the quality that it should be, there has been a communication between the residents here, TDC and also to the developers.

The most recent questions are:

  1. Who is responsible for the upkeep of the overgrowing areas?
  2. Has the area been prepared in such a way as to allow for adequate drainage?

One resident has been trying to ascertain who's responsible for the overgrowing vegetation, he keeps having the buck passed from one developer to another, can you please send me a plan of this area that highlights who's responsibilities lies where?

Would you also question the developers as to what they have done to reduce water retention within the ground, it appears from the photos that currently there is no drainage and the rain water remains on the surface?

Many thanks

Councillor Hawkins.


Friday 4th Oct 2019

What we would like to see happen in Torridge:

  1. An increase in Bus services from East the Water to locations including North Devon Hospital, which can isolate people, especially the elderly. If Stagecoach or another company refuse, we wish to start up a local initiative in which the community could help to serve itself – perhaps with lift or car sharing. Any initiative would have to have to accommodate people who don’t use the internet.
  2. Food Assemblies, to promote and catalyse growing, cooking and eating together locally. As part of this, we would like the councils to consider composting our green waste at recycling centres, which could be used by the local population. There was a thought that maybe this already happens at Deep Moor Recycling Centre, Torrington.
  3. For people to make pledges describing what they are prepared to do around preparing for or attempting to reduce the effects of climate change, perhaps compiled into a book, as has happened in Bexhill on Sea. This could happen around training sessions to educate people about what is happening and how we might best respond to the challenges ahead.
  4. For the ‘hidden homeless’ who live by sofa surfing and other short-term arrangements, to become recognised and the problem dealt with. We favour a project where a decrepit building is done up by a group of the ‘hidden homeless’, who learn the skills to do up the building, in preparation for them to live in it.
  5. For the building of second homes to be stopped – this was a popular idea in the lead up to local elections, along with sustainable housing for local people. Current ‘Local Plans’, which involve significant numbers of houses that could become second homes, do not consider the impacts of climate change. We can get some advice from St. Ives Council, to learn up they managed to do this. And we could talk to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, to find out about their developments. People are thinking of taking direct action if big developments to ahead, to draw attention to the problem.
  6. An increased provision for Youth Services – currently young people who are not vulnerable or at risk, have few opportunities and the current situation helps to keep vulnerable young people from integrating. Youth Services are contracted out to companies outside the council – can we take them back in house?
  7. More members of the public to attend council meetings and people’s assemblies. TCG Councillors can advise when particular meetings are happening, to be advertised in advance and invite individuals and organisations who might be interested in specific committee meetings. We can make a list of all organisations that we can invite personally to meetings or people’s assemblies.

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