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image credit: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
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The three year action plan initiated by Pevensey Parish Council, setting out priorities for the community was published in January. Already community initiatives are starting to take shape. A plan to establish a Friends Group for Pevensey playgrounds is the first of these schemes.

Priorities were harvested from a questionnaires sent to the whole community over Christmas, the exercise has proved to be a kickstarter of some description with other initiatives..

Talking about the value of the questionnaire to their work Peter Lowton, chair of the council said, “On behalf of Pevensey Parish Council I would like to thank everyone that took the time to complete our short questionnaire either online or using the leaflets. We have had an amazing 587 responses. This equates to a response rate of over 21% (when compared against the adult population). Your responses have been a massive help to see what parishioners would like the Council to focus on over the next 3 years or so”.

One of the purposes of the thre year action plan is to encourage community initiatives and out of the plan has already come an initiative to encourage the establishment of a Friends Group for the local playgrounds in the parish

An initial public meeting took place on April 3.

Talking to the Pevensey Bay Journal (April 14), Pevensey parish councillor, Shirley McKinnon said, “the latest council initiative is the establishment of a Friends Group for the playgrounds.

“We are meeting on 30 April to try to encourage support. The aim is to set up a group which would be able to access grants, arrange picnics and play events for families and help keep the grounds maintained and tidy, etc All with Council support of course as they are on Council land”.

Shirley added, “we have also managed to secure 3 playday events in the Summer holidays with Community Stuff (24th July , 2nd and 22nd August) from 1-3pm. Community Stuff turn up and encourage children (and families) to play and do silly things.

The possibility of the establishment of a Friends Group for the playgrounds here is another example of how Pevensey Parish council is becoming an  exemplar of some description.

They are demonstrating what can be done with will, experience and an understanding of the local context for services.

So much has been cut from local service budgets by local authorities that the possibilities of any new community initiatives seem to be shrinkingly remote.

What Pevensey Parish Council is demonstrating with their initiatives is that this does not necessarily have to be the case.

There is an argument to be put that these things are happening not in spite of the Age of Austerity but because of the Age of Austerity.

East Sussex County Council may be facing bankruptcy in two years.

What is inevitable is that as responsibility devolves down to what Peter Lowton, the chair of Pevensey Parish Council has described as ‘the first tier of government’, change must happen.

There is no money, so money must be found and that money has to come from forming new partnerships, by reaching out to grant providers with the seal of approval of Pevensey Parish Council.

We may be a little more than a few years away from a position in which all first tier services in rural communities are comprised of a patchwork quilt of partnerships with parish councils.

This is one reason why the grant provision for the possible establishment of a Friends Group for our playgrounds is important.

There is vision in the community three year plan being enacted by Pevensey Parish Council.

This is pioneering work which deserves credit, an example of a kind of template for other parish councils in the locality perhaps.

Linking to grant providers and exciting new organisations working within East Sussex is a step change for this community.

The plan to establish a Friends Group for Pevensey playgrounds is an exciting local initiative.