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Helen Pakpahan

With the completion of the Market Town Initiative, many partnerships have lost the capacity to undertake works as they do not have skills and capacity to develop projects and funding applications (unless these are taken up by district or county councils). Reliance on volunteers and social entrepreneurs actually favours those communities with the most 'get up and go' - something which is often lacking in the market towns which most need the support. Is there a need for a transitional phase post MTI? What ways could partners better support town action plans in this new era?

Helen Pakpahan

Another thought - Has the MTI/Parish Plans acted to raise expectations without being able to deliver on the bigger ideas and needs?
Is this why councils are getting reduced satisfaction in there town centres even though in real terms a number of key aspirations have been met?

Chris Wade, Chief Executive, Action for Market Towns


You make very valid points and something that is backed-up by our studies of the state of market town partnerships in the East Midlands in particular. Support for market town regeneration is now variable between local authority areas and regions. In many regions there are very significant resources available for market town regeneration but they are focused on economic outputs and on specific projects rather than support for capacity building or community planning.

We have identified a gap in the co-ordinated support available for the organisational development of market town partnerships in the way that you also allude to. To counter this, Action for Market Towns is developing a "Sustaining Market Towns 3i Programme" and has submitted outline proposals to the Big Lottery Fund. We are also currently in discussion with other partners including RuralNet about this Programme. Further details will be avaialable on our stand at the RuralNet conference.

Barrie Duke

May be the lack of skills initially identified in starting an MCTI makes it difficult for some towns to know how to find people with the relevant skills or to know how to attract them.

Some are reluctant to be involved in MCTI initiatives when these are hard to discover, difficult to understand and little is published of their activities. [I'm sure that is not the case in the E. Midlands].

I once offered help to an MCTI and was informed by email, in effect 'don't call us, we'll call you'. I know that I might not have much to offer apart from working in rural areas for 40 years and been involved in the odd community project or two, and raised a £1m or so.

I once maintained that low income, sparsely populated, rural areas lack the skills and even enthusiasm for development. I no longer agree with myself - I can find them but not the finance that is unencumbered by enormous administrative burden and can reach the ground in supporting the projects local people want to create and run.

There can sometimes be a glass wall of lack of trust where people who refuse to join endless committees and produce piles of paper are kept away. This can prevent those with large commercial and practical experience from going anywhere near.

I'm not trying to have a go at MCTI's but rather suggest that rural areas take a bit more working at and that the traditionally taught means of engagement might occassionally put off more than they attract.

Chief Officer
Age Concern Okehampton and Torridge

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