Curry Mallet and Beercrocombe (CM&B) joined forces in 2004 to complete a parish plan for which funding was provided by government (initially through the Countryside Agency). This funding was for villages to gather information from residents on how they saw the future of their village, what facilities or activities they would like to have access to, etc.
A steering group was set up with representatives from CM&B, fact-finding events were held, a questionnaire was sent out to all residents of both villages and the results analysed. Based on the findings, Action Groups were set up to explore the main issues and requirements and recommendations were reached. All the findings were then documented in an A4 landscape booklet – “The Curry Mallet and Beercrocombe Parish Plan”. Copies were distributed to all households (a small number of extra copies were held by the parish clerk) and to the district council and other interested agencies.
The steering group completed its work and a monitoring group was then created in order to progress the recommendations. This was a joint advisory committee to both villages parish council with two representatives from each village (at least one of each was a parish councillor). As well as this monitoring group there were action teams for several of the areas outlined in the report. The actions teams focused on the outcomes for their area and the monitoring group looked at the wider picture, including any financial implications and then acted as the liaison with each of the parish councils so that appropriate decision making and forward planning could take place. The monitoring group meetings were open to the public and agendas and minutes were displayed on village noticeboards.
The Action Groups included:
Keeping in Contact – they were responsible for:
- The welcome pack (in existence).
- A quarterly newsletter (in existence “The Beer and Curry Takeaway”). The first edition of the newsletter came out in the autumn of 2005 and 34 editions have now been printed (up to Spring 2014)
- Village websites (Curry Mallet’s now coming into existence in 2014).
They also looked at other issues:
- The provision of noticeboards. It was decided that there were sufficient given that the production of the newsletter was imminent. The Action Group concluded that it should be kept under review but once the newsletter started being produced the group concentrated on this and the review never happened.
- Internet training. An article appeared in the Beer and Curry (issue 8) asking people to contact Julia Wright of Beercrocombe if they were interested in a silver surfers session. It would seem there wasn’t much of a response so nothing further happened with this topic.
The Environment and Countryside – They helped to set up litter collections days (now done on a regular basis), exploring solutions to dog fouling (bins now available), producing a booklet of local walks (now in existence).
The Younger Generation – they looked at the needs of the young including provision of workshops, cinema at the hall and other projects (there is now a youth group which meets twice a month at the village hall.
Community Safety – a booklet was produced and distributed to all households giving advice on safety and security of self and property. Regular updates are provided by the neighbourhood watch co-ordinators on any matters of concern. Visibility of Policing was a key issue and the presence of PCSO’s was increased subsequently and until recently drop in sessions with a PCSO were available in the post office on a regular basis. An update on crime and community safety by the Police is a regular feature at the annual Parish Meetings. The condition of local roads was another issue and there is now regular liaison between the Parish Council and the Highways staff on surfacing and repair priorities. Road safety training was raised and is now one of the school activities.
Transport: No Car – How Travel? – the issues for those without a car were looked at and the priorities identified included footpath maintenance and information on routes; road safety for cyclists and pedestrians; public transport information; car sharing, promoting considerate driving, especially of larger vehicles; to promote the use of the old railway as a link to Ilminster. Substantial progress has been made on footpaths in replacing stiles with gates and establishing a group of volunteers responsible for maintenance. A parish walks booklet was prepared with financial help from the County Council. Bus and community transport information is now available on line and on the noticeboard. Issues still exist with heavy vehicles and driver behaviour and the railway route idea has been overtaken by the creation of National Cycle Route 33 which is signposted through the village and links with Taunton and Bridgwater to the north and Ilminster and beyond southwards.
Housing for the Future – affordable housing in particular was looked at. Hastoe Housing have since moved forward with the development of six affordable housing units near Lyddons Farm Barns, now 1 – 6 Doble Close. The Lyddons Farm Barns were subsequently developed providing six private dwellings (now 7 – 12 Doble Close). Bulk oil purchase to ease housing costs was also raised and a scheme for the village has been set up.