making it happen together
Late in 2006, Theale Parish Council decided that it was time that Theale had a Parish Plan/Village Design Statement and sponsored a group of villagers to form a Start Up group and commence preparatory work. Villagers of all ages were sought to join this group and to participate in the development of the plan.
The Start Up group held a number of meetings and organised two Launch meetings, one for businesses and one for residents, at the end of march 2007. The Launch meeting for residents was supported by Theale Local History Group who put on a thought provoking display of photographs contrasting the old with the new in our village.
At a public meeting on 23rd April 2007, a Steering Group (SG) was elected to manage the preparation of the Theale Parish Plan. At an early meeting, the SG decided to call the Theale Parish Plan, Theale’s Future, with the strap line of ‘making it happen together’, which they believed reflected the aims of the group.
In line with the many observations received during the Launch meetings, the SG decided initially to consult on:
- Traffic and Transport
- Environment and Conservation
- Leisure and Sport
- Social, Safety and the Community
- Planning and Development – which would be covered by a ‘Village Design Statement’
- Our Safe Community
- Getting In and Around
- Leisure and Pleasure
Theale’s Future held a number of very successful events during 2007, including an Art Competition, stalls at the Fun Day and at the Primary School Summer Fete, a two day consultation on the High Street and an evening consultation in November. At each event we gathered feedback and observations from the residents of Theale. We received well over 500 observations, suggestions and comments. From this really comprehensive collection of thoughts from people who live or work in our village, three Focus Groups were set up early in 2008:
These groups reported back with a set of proposed questions, based on the observations received and recorded. The questions to go into the Village Questionnaire were finalised with the assistance of The Greenham Common Trust, who very kindly copied it free of charge to us.
The questionnaire was delivered by our volunteers to the over 1,200 households in Theale and many of the completed questionnaires were collected back by our volunteers. Over 650 completed questionnaires were returned – a return rate of more than 50% – which is a high rate and is an indication of the interest Theale residents have in their village.
The High Sheriff of the Royal County of Berkshire, Dr Carol Boulter, who lives in Theale, very kindly drew the winner of the £100 Prize Draw for returning a completed questionnaire at the Fun Day on Sunday 13th July 2008.
The Greenham Common Trust has almost completed the entry and analysis of the questionnaire results, which will be reported back to residents in a newsletter letting villagers know what the results tell us you want for our village. The answers will provide a really powerful way of showing what changes our village wants.
After detailed examination and consideration of the results, Theale’s Future will move into the next phase of activities relating to the Parish Plan. This will include the identification of projects to meet the needs you have told us about in the questionnaire. We will also be applying for the funds to enable these projects to be completed. The SG and the Parish Council will then work to get them implemented.
Early in 2008, Theale’s Future applied to Awards for All, part of the Big Lottery Fund, for a grant to pay for the cost of preparing and publishing the Parish Plan, as well as the Theale Directory and to set up a website for village news and information. In July we heard that our application was successful and that Theale’s Future has been awarded the full grant we applied for. This superb news removed our concerns about how to pay for our activities over the next year.
Thanks you to those that assisted with this so far, and in particular…