Join in the Totnes Community Conversation to have your say on the priorities to improve the lives of the people and businesses in Totnes
Totnes Town Council is asking residents to join in the conversation to say what’s important and help inform how public money is spent in the town. The Community Conversation survey, which launches on 5 July 2023, will be used alongside other insights, such as the Community Charter and the Neighbourhood Plan. It will help identify the priorities for the town ahead of developing the Town Council’s Strategic Plan for 2024-30 and setting the budget for the next year.
Cllr Emily Price, Mayor of Totnes, said: “This is your chance to say what you want the Town Council to do in the coming years. We need you to tell us what matters most to you so we can make sure we plan projects and spend public money effectively to meet those needs.
“Providing grants to support our local community groups, improving the appearance of our streets and helping local businesses to thrive with an active tourism strategy, all cost money, which is collected from a surcharge on the Council Tax. We recognise the importance of striking a balance between meeting the identified needs of the residents and supporting our strengths as a community with the clear need to keep the surcharge on the Council Tax as affordable as possible.
“In 2023-24, Totnes Town Council received £205.23 from the average £2,383.13 Band D annual Council Tax payment (or about £17 a month / £4 a week). The remainder is given to Devon County Council, South Hams District Council, The Police, and The Fire Service. With that money, we meet our legal duties such as managing the cemetery on Plymouth Road as well as investing in initiatives and projects that local people have previously told us they want us to prioritise such as:
- supporting vulnerable people in the community;
- employing a Town Maintenance Officer to help keep the town looking its best;
- supporting heritage organisations like Totnes Museum;
- proactively promoting the town to visitors to help local businesses to flourish.
The cost-of-living crisis and the state of the economy means that providing the services that meet people’s needs is costing ever more so the Council is keen to ensure that residents are consulted on the choices ahead:
- to spend more to deliver additional services and increase the surcharge for these services;
- to pay marginally more to maintain current services or;
- to reduce the services we offer and thus slightly reduce the overall Council Tax bill.
To help understand the priorities of the community we need to know what services residents think are most important and which, if any, are less important. We need the views from as many residents and business owners in Totnes as possible to make sure we plan projects that local people want to see happening in town.”
The Community Conversation consultation runs from 5 July to 6 September 2023 and can be completed online here. Paper copies of the survey will be circulated to households via Royal Mail during the summer and can be returned to the Guildhall Offices. If anyone needs help completing the questionnaire, they can call 01803 862147 or visit the Town Council offices at 5 Rampart’s Walk (behind St Mary’s Church) Mon-Fri 10am-4pm. Councillors will also be attending regular group events in the town, such as the Community Café at St John’s Church, and Stepping Stones Food Bank, to help residents to complete the survey. The Town Council will also be taking a stall at an upcoming Friday Market (date tbc) to get another opportunity to talk to the community about what matters to them.
The results of the survey will be collated in September before being used by Councillors and Town Council Officers to inform the Totnes Town Council Strategic Plan for 2024-30 and budget setting for 2024-25, which takes place annually in November. The Strategic Plan will identify core projects and activities that the Town Council will undertake over the next six years and the budget will be set to enable us to achieve those ambitions.
Cllr Price added: “Your views on what matters to you will be key in driving the decisions we make as a Town Council and I would ask that you therefore spend just a few minutes of your time to complete the survey online or on paper and make sure your voice is heard.”
What does the Town Council do?
The Town Council is a tier of local government that plays a role in improving community wellbeing and improving local services. Councillors are elected by residents and have discretionary powers and rights to represent local people and provide services for them.
Statutory duties (things the Town Council must do in the town):
- Managing and maintaining the cemetery (Plymouth Road)
- Maintaining and managing other spaces and buildings in the town, including The Civic Hall and The Guildhall as well as Castle Meadow
- Holding required council meetings and official mayoral events following strict procedures.
Current other activities and projects in town (aiming to support more vulnerable members of the community, improve wellbeing and help the town to thrive):
- Supporting services for vulnerable residents by providing grants to local community groups, especially for those who might find it hard to get funding from other sources. For example, previous recipients of Town Council grants include Totnes Caring, Stepping Stones Food Bank, Food in Community and Jamming Station
- Supporting vulnerable residents by taking a coordinating role within the TQ9: Together We Care Partnership to ensure a more joined-up approach to provision of community support in the town
- Sharing information on availability of external grants with local community groups
- Improving the town’s appearance by employing a Town Maintenance Officer and Assistant. Duties include mowing grass at certain locations, including St Mary’s Churchyard
- Support for projects to improve town facilities, such as Collapark Play Area
- Supporting heritage organisations in town
- Responding to local concerns such as the potential sale of the Elmhirst site
- Taking an active role in tackling climate change, including by promoting active travel and green initiatives in the town.
- Support for local businesses, including actively promoting Totnes as a destination via the Visit Totnes brand to encourage new and returning visitors to spend time (and money) in the town. This includes operating a Tourist Information Centre in the Market Square from April-October and holding events like the Totnes Christmas Markets and Late Night Shopping and Summer Fair events and monthly Indoor Artisan Markets in the Civic Hall
- From 2023, Totnes Town Council has agreed to take on responsibility for the festive street lighting at Christmas (previously the responsibility of the Chamber of Commerce)
All completed and valid surveys (postcode within the parish boundary, no duplicate entries) will be entered into a draw to win £50. This can be spent with a local business or donated to a local charity (again within the parish boundary).