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Welcome to the Staverton Village Website South Devon

Welcome to the Staverton Village Website, South Devon. The original village website was created by Graham Wood in 1996 and since then it has had several thousand hits from all over the world. Sadly, Graham died in 2008. It had been his intention to update and modernise the site but he did not get the chance to do so. I hope he would approve of the changes that have been made.

 

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The Staverton Wildlife Area

 

READ WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP...........................

 

PROPOSALS FROM THE STAVERTON WILDLIFE & CONSERVATION AREA SOCIETY TO KEEP OWNERSHIP OF THE STAVERTON WILDLIFE AREA AND LANDSCOVE ALLOTMENTS IN PARISH COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP.

 

1. Background

 

At their November meeting Staverton Parish Council decided to sell the area of Woodland in Staverton situated between the Boardwalk and Thulborn Ltd’s depot to Thulborn Ltd in order to raise the funds required (£15,000) to purchase the freehold of the Landscove allotment site from the Church Commissioners. The Church Commissioners had set a deadline of Dec 31 (now extended to Jan 31 2015) for exchange of contracts.

At that meeting the Woodland was described in the agenda as a piece of ‘rough land’ and it would be difficult to argue that councillors individual voting decisions were not influenced by this description. However, it is in fact a natural Wildlife Area of considerable ecological merit and interest which was bought by the Parish Council 20 years ago with the intention of keeping it in community ownership as a natural wildlife area.  Also, the two Staverton resident councillors were absent from the meeting, so were unable to comment or vote.

The sale to Thulborns should therefore not go ahead. There is an extraordinary Parish Council meeting called for 11am on Dec 27 at Landscove Victory Hall to reconsider, and we hope rescind, the decision to sell to Thulborns. The newly formed Staverton Wildlife & Conservation Area Society is putting forward two alternative proposals which will negate the need to sell to Thulborns and will keep the Wildlife Area and the Allotment Site in community ownership in perpetuity. All parishioners are welcome to that meeting to express their opinions.

We need as many parishioners as possible to come to that meeting on Dec 27 to show the strength of opposition to the sale – so please come and show your opposition. You don’t need to stay long, or say anything – just being there is enough. But you are allowed to stay for the whole meting if you wish and hear the councillors make their decision.

This is the one and only chance to stop the sale – we need your support!

 

2. Reasons why the Wildlife Area must not be sold to Thulborns

2.1 Historical context

This land was bought by the Parish Council from the Church Commissioners in 1993 at the same time as it also bought The Court Room, Childrens’ Playground, Playing Field and the Land Adjoining the Dart Valley Railway (Riverside Walk). All these sites were put in trust except the Wildlife Area. The reason why it was excluded is no longer known, but the councillor who at the Parish Council meeting in January 1994 proposed the motion - that was carried by just one vote - to exclude it from the trust now has no idea why he opposed it and, in light of the present threat of it being sold, bitterly regrets that decision.

We are told by Spencer Keys, who was a councillor at the time that the aim of the PC was to buy all the land being sold by the Church Commission between the river Dart and the road to Staverton village to consolidate its holding and link the whole area and put it in trust for the benefit, free access and visual pleasure of the public. By what now appears to have been an accident of history the Wildlife Area was unfortunately excluded from that trust.

However, the Parish Council does acknowledge that it is a Wildlife Area – it was described as such in the minutes of their meeting in Jan 1994 and the Council’s own plaques on the gates to the area state:

This nature area is provided for the residents and visitors alike......Please keep out of the adjacent Wildlife Area which has been fenced off as a habitat for flora and fauna......which has been provided to commemorate the Third Millennium.

2.2  Ecological

It is an ecological site of considerable interest and merit. The respected professional ecologist, Dr Peter Beale, who is acting as ecological advisor to the Staverton Wildlife & Conservation Area Society has inspected the site with the chairman of the Society and Spencer Keys and is writing a report to confirm its importance.

2.3 Environmental & Conservation

The area provides a natural backdrop to the Riverside Walk and must be conserved as such. It also provides a Green Belt buffer between the industrial site currently occupied by Thulborn Ltd and the village, so blocking any possible extension of the industrial site.

The question has to be asked: why would a highway maintenance company want to acquire this Wildlife Area adjacent to their depot (which appears to be operating at full capacity)?  However honourable their intentions may be (and we are not suggesting otherwise – after all it was the Parish Council that approached them in the first place to buy the land, so for all we know they may well believe they are doing the village a favour by buying it), it must be noted that they do have the equipment in their yard to flatten the Wildlife Area overnight. We are not saying they would, but it would be naive and unwise to ignore the fact that they, or their successors, could. Whatever covenants were put on a sale would be worthless if that were to happen because it could not be restored, and whatever assurances any purchaser may give, once the site is sold out of community ownership all control of its future conservation would be lost.

It is also noted that occupants of the yard (either current or previous owners or tenants) have demolished part of the boundary fence between the yard and the Wildlife Area and rubble from the yard is encroaching on the Wildlife Area. This shows there has been a careless disregard for the Wildlife Area.

3. What is the Staverton Wildlife & Conservation Area Society?

This Society (SWCAS) has been formed to protect the Wildlife Area from sale to an outside interest. It is being set up as a Community Land Trust within the legal framework of a Community Benefit Society. It is applying for registration under the Cooperative and Community Benefits Act 2014 and will seek registration as a charity with the Charity Commission and HMRC. It is early days, but we already have a provisional constitution and management committee, very strong support within the Parish and are proceeding at full speed to be fully established as soon as possible.

Membership will be open to everyone resident in the Parish on payment of a once off nominal subscription of £1. Each member will have one vote at general meetings and will elect the management committee. Community Benefit Societies are governed by the Cooperative Movement and this structure will ensure that it embraces the whole Parish community as stakeholders and owners of its assets.

The Society is including an ‘asset lock’ in its constitution that will ensure that its assets are held for the benefit of the members (ie. The Parish Community) in perpetuity.

The society will be funded by donations raised from Parishioners and other supporters.  It is clear from the level of support already offered that it will have no difficulty in raising the £15000 required to purchase the Allotments. But as that will take time to collect, the Society is holding confirmed written offers of interest free loans to that amount from private individuals that are immediately available.  

4. The Society’s proposals for the way ahead

The Society is putting forward two alternative proposals - these are still being finalised and will be posted here on Tuesday Dec 23 afternoon.

Both are creative and forward thinking proposals which are fully funded and solve the funding needs to purchase the Allotments and keep all the assets concerned in Community Ownership within the Parish. Both completely negate the need to sell the Wildlife Area to Thulborns. But for either to proceed the decision to sell the Wildlife Area to Thulborns first needs to be unconditionally rescinded by the Parish Council at their Extraordinary Meeting on December 27th.

 

So we need your support at the meeting on Dec 27th!

If you want more information, to comment or make suggestions, you can contact either:

 

 Bruce Thorogood, Chairman of the Staverton Wildlife & Conservation Area Society at: bruce@blindwell.plus.com

 

or the Secretary Alison Alexander on 762291.

 

 

BEST WISHES FOR A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A PEACEFUL NEW YEAR

 

 

Posted on 21 December 2014

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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