This February, we set off for Ashburton into the teeth of a gale, the worst day so far of a wet and windy winter, to run one of our occasional ‘drop-in surgeries’ across the County. Would anybody brave the weather to pick our brains about their local issues?

The event was aimed at communities in Teignbridge and South Hams, but the first through the door were the four wise men of Berrynarbor who had travelled eighty miles to quiz us about funding that could help implement their emergency plan, develop their village hall and improve their play area. We drew the chairs into a circle and started a lengthy review of options, methods and opportunities.

There is no time like the present and so when we were asked for advice on the potential to change the local Methodist Church into a performance and arts facility we went on an instant site visit. We were able to give some initial advice on the processes that would be needed to bring the vision to reality. It’s a project we look forward to supporting.

Back to our surgery; our evening session saw the arrival in force of the Ashburton Neighbourhood Planning Group. They had a number of issues that were frustrating the development of their plan. We were able to help them work through the issues and come up with a process that would help them get back on track.

Parish and neighbourhood plans, community buildings, play areas, sports facilities, local resilience, energy conservation, public entertainment, community enterprises and parish councils. The topics raised were many and varied. It was a session to test us, but also to show what a wide range of support we are able to give to Devon’s communities.

It’s nice to know that people will brave the elements to come and seek our help.

Martin Rich
martin@devoncommunities.org.uk
01392 248919