loader image

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The First Past the Post system is outdated but can we see PR happening in the UK?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

NORTHAM COMMUNITY ENCOUNTERS – CHRISTMAS FAYRE 21st December

21st

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

Email: adanosbell@gmail.com

How do we communicate amongst ourselves?

There is a sense recently that TCG is becoming fragnented and lacks cohesion. I want to suggest ways we might resolve this.

Whilst Frome was living example of what can be done, it has the advantage (as do Totnes, Stroud, Bexhill (apparently!) – and many others) of being fairly confined geographically. Torridge is dispersed over a large area with many wards. The name TCG was chosen to denote a whole district as opposed to one small market town eg Frome. By framing it in this way we were entering the unknown – little did we know what we’re getting ourselves into!  We now have eight elected councillors from different parts of Torridge. The focus was getting these councillors elected. We are now in a different place.

The identity of TCG remains intact – a platform to encourage other communities to self-organise and develop in their own area. Each district has its own unique needs and identity. But how does it express this unique identity to the public? How do the elected councillors implement the individual concerns of the public? Carl rightly asks What’s Next?

Communication and discussion is more important than ever so that we can  ask the right questions and  explore pathways to answering them.

Current existing modes of communication are – the assemblies, meetings, emails, phone calls and messaging, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, the newsletter and the new Website/forum. This is all great but fragmentation arises. Let’s look at these with their possibilities and limitations –

assemblies – every 2 months. Great initial success for the purpose of the election. Now we are in a different place the recent assembly indicates amendments are needed. (See suggestions by John Ward and reservations by Carl). Needs further discussion on purpose and means of attracting the public as well as initial TCG non-councillors supporters.

meetings – Larger meetings at Tapeley – always popular.

                         Small, frequent, group meetings and one-to-one – (we thrive on these in Northam).

Other meetings at the Custom House are variously attended, dependent on people reading emails regarding dates and purpose.. Regularly visiting the website for info might help?

emails – essential but threads can become long and unwieldy and important info eg time and focus of next meeting seems to be getting lost or unread. Again – making use of the website or the Facebook page might help.

Newsletter  Jamie produces this and reaches beyond the email list

Twitter Totally Jamie. Am I the only one liking his tweets?!

What’s app – used by the Bideford wards.

Facebook – despite Jamie and Kaye’s great video, nothing else is happening. Take a peak at NDXR’s Facebook page which is amazing! What can we learn from this? Is anyone prepared to take responsibility for the TCG Facebook page?

website/forum – a genius construction of Carl’s, and imho, one that promises to play a major part in connecting TCG councillors and the non-councillor community (and eventually the public) as well as providing a seedbed for ideas and projects and envisioning a reilient and abundant future for the people of Torridge. Something utterly lacking in present council procedures and mindsets!

So, these various modes of communication will appeal to different people. But they are in place and we should be able to improve on them and make better use of them.

The projects imagined and being created by Joel, Daniel, Guiseppe and John are fantastic opportunities for manifesting the TCG vision. And not forgetting our enormously energetic Laurence with his travelogue and research of amazing things happening in other parts of the country, returning with stories to inspire us and revive our spirits!.

Once we start supporting and promoting these projects and initiatives, we begin to provide real spaces for councillors, TCG community and the public to participate and for TCG to continue to define its identity.

The word vibrancy keeps popping into my mind – perhaps because this is what I sense when I talk to active members of TCG. There is so much imagination, expertise and commitment to a resilient – even abundant future, for the Torridge area. Let’s work together!

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.

 


Important This site makes use of cookies which may contain tracking information about visitors. By continuing to browse this site you agree to our use of cookies.