At this week’s meeting of the Council, a representative from Citizens Advice came along to advise Councillors about their current funding problem. At the beginning of the 2022/23 financial year, Wiltshire Council cut their annual support grant by a 3rd leaving the service financially struggling. This cut in funding has come at a particularly bad time, as the cost of living crisis is putting greater demand on their services, with people from all income brackets turning to them for advice and support. Whilst as a Town Council we can’t fill the funding gap they have, we will be making a small emergency grant to them and have asked the Citizens Advice Service to come back with a funding request for 2023/24, which can be considered later in the year.
Over successive years, facilities for younger people have been cut due to budgetary pressures and now the Town Council is becoming increasingly concerned that many of the current problems we are seeing around the town, are in part as a result of that. To support our understanding of what issues young people are concerned about, we teamed up with the St James’ Chaplaincy to run a “Have Your Say” youth survey in which over 900 young people of secondary school age took part. This week the authors of the survey reported back, and as you would expect, there were some comments that we expected to receive, especially around how time is spent outside of school, with the top 6 answers being concentrated around solitary “on-line” activities at home. However, when asked what would young people would like to do, if facilities were available, the top answers were geared toward face to face interaction, but through facilities designed for youth. Anti-social behavior is a key concern for many young people, with it impacting on them as much as it does older members of the community, but they then feel many older people believe all young people are “up to mischief” making them feel that they are unfairly victimised. Clearly there is lots more work needed, therefore we will be looking to engage with young people further to make them integral to any evolving plans.
At this time of year we always have a high demand for allotments and we understand how frustrating it is that they are not always available when members of the community want to take one on. To help us manage the demand, we do only provide them for Devizes residents, so if you have always wanted to have space to grow your own vegetables and flowers, it’s always worth putting your name down. When you do eventually take an allotment on, there is no shortage of advice from the Allotment Associations, who we work closely with. This Saturday 20th August from 11:30 they are holding a Flower and Vegetable Show. Why not pop along to the Windsor Drive Allotment Site, to chat with them as see what having an allotment is all about.
As we see the temperature dropping and a bit more rain about, we shortly expect to be out and about again grass cutting. However, as we are out or rotation, some verges may grow a little longer than we would like, so please bear with us.
Finally, the Council is just starting to develop its new next 5 year strategy. To support this process Councillors are currently thinking about what local issues may have change that will influence our primary function and what the Council should be trying to achieve over the next plan period. Later in the year as members of the Devizes community, you will be asked similar questions, because as an organisation we are here to make Devizes a better place to live, work and visit and I am sure you will all have suggestion on how we should do that.
Town Clerk, Simon Fisher