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Berwick St James Parish

Community Plan

Berwick St James Survey Report

Berwick St James Reports – Aug 2012

Special Village Meeting

Village Survey Report and Discussion

I hope that by now you will have received a copy of the Berwick St James survey report and find it to be an interesting and informative document to read as it should reflect the views and opinion of the people who live in Berwick St James. They can be downloaded by clicking in the link below or the pictures above.

In early 2011 a draft community plan was produced and submitted to the village meeting for consultation (seen below with comments) At a subsequent village meeting in May 2011 it was suggested that a village survey be carried out so that everybody living in the village could have the opportunity to express their views. A short time later a committee of volunteers was formed to develop a survey form, analyse the results and submit a report of the findings.

In March 2012 the survey forms were distributed to every household in the village and we were delighted that over 82% of people living in the village completed a form either as a household or as individuals. Ten people aged 11 to 17 years also completed a separate young person’s survey. Analysing the results and preparing the reports has been very time consuming and has been the result of a great deal of effort by the committee members, particularly Neil MacDougall who prepared the Adult’s Survey Report and Michelle Drouse-Woodhouse who prepared the Young Person’s Survey Report.

The surveys and reports have been prepared very much with the ‘So What?’ question in mind. A number of areas of concern have been raised and there have been many excellent ideas put forward by people in the village. In order to go through the survey findings and discuss what can be done about them a special village meeting is being planned.  We will look at the main issues that have caused concern and also explore the ideas that have been put forward. Some of the ideas may require funding from the community fund.

The special village meeting will be held at 7pm in the Reading Room at Monday 3rd September 2012.

The meeting will be run in informal manner in such a way that everybody will have the opportunity to express their views on the main topics that have been raised in the survey results.  Wine and other refreshment will be available at the meeting and we very much hope that you will be able to come. Everybody, including young people from the village is most welcome. An agenda will be placed on the noticeboards before the meeting.

I would like to finish by expressing my sincere thanks to all the committee members who helped to produce the survey forms and the final reports.

Regards

Chris Lange

Village Survey Committee Chairman

The Community Plan shown below has been kindly put together by Richard Brasher the Chair of the Village Meeting. It has now been placed on this website so that people who live in the village can have an opportunity to view the plan and to make comments. Comments will be added below the Community Plan. If you would like your comments to be added below, please send me an E mail to chris@berwickstjames.org.uk

2001 Cencus data can be viewed by following this link

Berwick St James and Asserton

Community Plan

NB This plan was the first draft circulated for consultation back in May 2011 and resulted in a survey being conducted as mentioned above

Introduction
 

The Berwick St James and Asserton area is located to the west of the Druids Lodge Estate and is approximately 6 miles from Amesbury and the same distance from Wilton. The Parish dates back to the 11th Century.

The village has about 75 houses and a population of C140 people including children, and is bounded by an SSSI, the River Till and agricultural land.

Social Care and Health

There is no GP practice and most of the inhabitants are served by Doctors in Codford, Shrewton and Wilton. The nearest dental practice is in Wilton.

Countryside and Land Based Issues and Employment

The village is surrounded by agricultural land but relatively few people work on the land. The local inn is one of the best in the area and there is also an excellent farm shop. A relatively high proportion of the population are retired or semi retired.

Housing and Built Environment

Overall home ownership is quite high but there are several properties which are rented – many by long term tenants.

Local Economy

As stated previously, most of the inhabitants are retired. It is not known if there are any unemployed but, if there are, it is a very small percentage.

Transport

Car ownership is the village is high and most families have a car. There is also a regular bus service to Wilton, Salisbury and Devizes and a school bus to Great Wishford School. The A303 is about 1 mile to the North and the A36 about 2 miles to the South. The nearest railway station is at Salisbury – About 9 miles away.

Unless there is an accident on the A36 which may cause a diversion through the village, traffic is relatively light. However, there is increasing concern about the speed at which people (non residents) drive through the High Street.

Crime and Community Protection

To date the village is relatively crime free and the most recent crimes have been stealing gardening equipment and heating oil. There have been no recent cases of anti social behaviour. There is a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

Education

There is no school in the Parish. A mobile library visits about once a week.

Culture

The only community sport is cricket but the number of players is diminishing. Most activities centre on the church, the pub and the reading room.

Conclusion

The Parish appears to be harmonious and content with the status quo. The most important issues appear to be:

  • Protecting the existing situation and environment.
  • Ensuring that any new buildings are in keeping with the style in the village.
  • Persuading planning officers to take more notice of the opinions of the villagers and not to overrule the views of the majority.

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Feedback

The following comments were added by Christian Lange - March 2011

Community plans such as ours will contribute to the Community Area Plan. I think that there are about 20 Community Areas in Wiltshire and each area has a Community Area Board which makes decisions on all sorts of things. Looking at the plan, it appears that the headings that you have included broadly reflect the topics that are covered by the Community Area Boards. The Community Area Board should be informed by the various community plans and this is particularly so if it can be demonstrated that the plan was put together as a result of thorough consultation.

It is good for a community to occasionally go through a consultation process as it can draw a community together to decide upon what it wants for the future. All should have the opportunity to be involved so that they can play a part in deciding the direction of that community. This process can also help to put weight behind future recommendations that the village meeting makes to planners and other decision makers if these are linked to a community plan.

Carrying out a consultation process for a village should not rely upon the views of the familiar faces that come along to the village meetings. Efforts should be made to involve people who may not always play an active role within our small community. This type of consultation exercise can be quite a time consuming and I know that it can be too much for one person to carry out on their own. I would like to suggest that a small committee be put together to carry out some consultation and draw up a plan which reflects the views of the whole community. I feel that the plan that you have drafted will serve as a very useful starting point.

I have listed below some of my own observations on the plan and its conclusions:

  • One of my top priorities is to ensure that Berwick St James continues to be a friendly community where most people know each other. This does not occur by chance and only happens through a multitude of community activities. In my mind there is no such thing as a status quo when it comes to communities. They are continually changing and if we wish to retain what we have we must be clear about what we value and put things in place within the plan to ensure they remain.
  • I do not want Berwick to become a village made up mostly of people who are retired. We should do all we can to ensure that Berwick retains and attracts young people to live, work and play an active role in the village. Bearing this in mind I feel that the village plan should look at ways in which this can be done. For example a good broadband connection enables people to work from home which can lead to young families being able to live and work here. We should also look at affordable housing for young families who wish to remain in village.
  • Good public transport is also essential and we should emphasise this point to ensure that existing buses services are retained or expanded. School children rely on this as do a number of retired people who do not have a car. This should be
  • pointed out in the plan so that decision makers take note of our wishes.
  • I feel that we should also stress what a valuable asset our village shop and pub are to community life. If possible, we would like decision makers to take this into account and offer council tax breaks or something similar – (I know that this may be unrealistic but we have to try to ensure that people understand what small rural communities value)
  • I would prefer it if the point that is made about new buildings were more flexible. I personally would not mind if a new modern building were built in Berwick St James as long as it was of architectural merit even if it was quite different from existing housing stock. I totally agree with the point about ensuring that planners take notice of our opinions and I feel that this could be incorporated into the point about new buildings.     

Christian

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The following comments were added by Michelle Drouse

Hi Chris,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the Berwick St James Community Plan.  I think it is a great start (and appreciate the hard work of Richard Brasher and others), and I like to provide some additional thoughts and recommendations.

  • General: It would be helpful to explain why we are developing a 'Community Plan' and requesting community feedback and also I'm unsure when you need feedback.  I'm assuming it's to support the Wiltshire Community Plan that sets out a strategic vision of the community to 2026 as described here: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/communityandliving/communityplan.htm.  That will enable the community to contribute in a more meaningful way.  Could you please confirm that the draft that has been provided for review is to support this effort? I'm confused as the Wiltshire website indicates that the plan is being implemented in April 2011. 
  • Engagement: We recognise how difficult it can be to engage with the community and solicit input.  Putting it on the website/twitter is a great first step so thank you! Additionally, have you considered having a small committee charged with reaching out to their neighbours (knock on the door, phone calls, social media, email, survey via surveymonkey/in the post, etc)? We all have varied availability and respond to different methods of communication.  As new residents to the community, we'd welcome the opportunity to not only meet neighbours, but participate in this process (even if it's in a virtual way).  I would like to offer my support in drafting the plan if needed.  I (Michelle) am a programme manager at the UK's Design Council and am a town planner/community designer by trade and have been involved in these types of efforts previously. David is a design executive at Ford and manages collaborative advanced design processes. 
  • Overall Content: The content that has been included is a good start and I think it could be even better with additional catagories/input from the community.  I found an example of another community plan that might be a good resource/reference in terms of the outline content. It also provides a mechanism to track our progress.  Not only have they created the community vision, they have demonstrated their actions/progress over time.  I recommend enhancing the existing content with some of these sections, ensuring that they are relevant to Berwick St James.  I'd be happy to provide an updated template so ensure that we are covering other categories such as Climate Change/Sustainability, Economic Development, Emergency Preparedness/Services, Leisure/Arts/Community Facilities/Lifelong Learning, and so forth. Please see the example here: 
  • Conculsion: I would like to build on the points in this section.  Recognising that there is harmony in the community sounds very nice, although I'm not sure what that means. It would be good to clarify this.  Also, I would like to clarify the points that explain 'protecting the existing situation/environment, ensuring that any new buildings are in keeping with the style in the village, and persuading planning officers to take more notice of villagers' opinions and not to overrule the views of the majority'.  Some of these details are much more about actions, rather than a community vision. And, I think it's important to really think about the community long term and ensure that we are preserving what is great about the community and also enhancing what could be improved.  I'd be happy to update this section as well as the others with community input.

Thank you again for sharing the draft Community Plan and we look forward to participating.

Kind regards,

Michelle Deniz Drousé &
David Woodhouse

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The following was sent by Karen Linaker - Our Community Area Manager

i) Above all, this is an excellent use of the village website, and it provides a great opportunity for local people to comment on the content of the  Berwick St James community plan, and to suggest ways in which the plan might be enhanced to reflect the views, needs, aspirations of all in the village

(ii) Perhaps the simplest way to describe what a Community Plan is ‘that it should record the views, needs, concerns, and aspirations of all in that community, with the overall objective of maintaining and improving life for all in that community’

(iii) The Plan captures well the view of local community leaders who continue to serve and represent the views of the whole village, and Mr Brasher should be commended for his work on this, as Christian comments, ‘this is a good start’

(iv) The Plan and all subsequent  comments posted about it provides very useful information for the updating of the Amesbury Community Area Plan, which Cllr Ian West, as Berwick St James unitary councillor, is working on with others in the Area, to ensure that this “Area Plan” truly reflects and focuses on the views, needs and aspirations of all 22 parishes in the Area

(v) The production of a Community Plan – and the subsequent implementation of actions arising from local objectives, goals, ambitions that this plan might list  - can be quite a task, and other villages in the Amesbury Community Area have drawn on the ideas of community planners from organisations such as Community First to provide them with a steer on how best to go about this work.  A tried and tested approach is to form a small group of local people who work alongside parish representatives to canvass the views of all villagers, to verify that the Plan really does reflect local opinion.

(vi) As Christian suggests, there is merit in protecting the status quo – but only so long as this is not at the expense of missing opportunities to improve life, amenities, services and the general sense of ‘community’ in your village.  

(vii) If there is anything I can do to help Berwick St James in further developing its Community Plan, I will.

Karen Linaker, Amesbury Community Area Manager, 01722 434697 karen.linaker@wiltshire.gov.uk

 

Comments peovided by Nicky Street:

Dear Chris
Many thanks for encouraging us to look at the Community Plan.
My comments are as follows;
Many thanks to those who did the original, it is a great discussion document and all the work done to produce it is greatly appreciated.
Looking at the 2001 census there appears to be a bit of a difference between the information given and the census .  eg 2001 census says there are 185 residents and 83 households.  Also per the census  20% describe themselves as retired. (the plan says "most" of the inhabitants are retired).
The census is 10 years out of date and so perhaps a sub-committee could design a questionnaire and consider other ideas to help resolve these and other points.
I would find it particually interesting to know the work position as in 2001 10% of Berwick's workers were in Agriculture as opposed to a national figure of only 1.5% in England, (and did that include people retired from agriculture?), as I have always thought of Berwick as a very farming based village (but I could be wrong!)  also home workers including the self employed, and commuters to London.
According to Karen Linaker (Community Area Manager) the plan should record the views, needs, concerns and aspirations of the villagers.
I think a questionnaire etc would serve to do this, and I go along with Michelle, David and Chris, and hope that it would bring in a wide range of ideas. My views are not entirely the same as those expressed in the plan.
I would like to see aspirations included - even if those that don't seem likely to happen!
I am willing to take part in the work that will be needed to do this!
Thanks
Nicky Street.

 

Cmments by Charles Street submitted 07/11/2011

A note to all those who live in the parish of Berwick St. James.
As many of you will be aware a community plan has been written by our parish chairman.
It was decided, at a parish meeting, that this did not represent the views of everyone in the parish and that the views of all those who live in the parish of Berwick should be sought.  As a result of this a committee was formed to come up with a questionnaire which will eventually be distributed to all those who live in the parish, as many of you cannot get to the parish meetings for whatever reason (timing, not informed, etc.) and therefore make your views known.
 
There are two matters which concern me greatly.
One: There are a few people in the village who think this questionnaire should not go ahead at all, if this does not happen how will the views of all the residents of Berwick be known to the Wiltshire Council.
 
 Two: It has also been suggested that young people under the age of 18 should not take part in the questionnaire; do some people seriously believe that any one between the ages of 16 and 18 (many of whom will be taking AS and A levels) are not intelligent enough to understand and answer the questions?  Are they also suggesting that young people between the ages of 14 and 16 (all of whom will be taking GCSEs) would not be able to understand and fill in the form?  I think this attitude is a terrible indictment on our young people.
I agree that an age limit has to be put on this but I do not think it should be 18.  It has been suggested that a shortened version of the questionnaire should go to young people; I think this should go to the under 14 age group.
 
I would encourage everyone in the parish to fully support the hard work of the committee, and once the questionnaire has been distributed to please fill it in so that it is the resounding success that it deserves to be, and that all our views are made known to the Wiltshire Council.
  
Thanks
 
Charles Street