New management plan
AGM 2015 – Chairman’s report
Copy of the annual chairman’s report presented by our chairman Bruce Thorogood.
20 Feb 2015 – Official handover ceremony
Photos by Michael Alexander
It has been an intense couple of months in Staverton but on Friday 20th February Staverton Wildlife Conservation Society were able to celebrate the successful purchase of the Wildlife Conservation Area with Jacqi Hodgson the Mayor of Totnes.
In December Staverton parishioners came together to stop the sale of the wildlife area out of parish ownership and also to enable the purchase of the allotment field in Landscove. There was a tight time schedule to achieve this but thanks to the co-operative efforts of a group of parishioners Staverton and the general support of parishioners the Wildlife Conservation Society was established as a community benefit and the sale was successfully completed.
At the short ceremony Spencer Keys who, as a parish councillor in 1992 was instrumental in the initial purchase of the area, said a few words about the history of the area. He also told the audience that it comprises a steep slope of about two acres running down from the Staverton playing field towards the River Dart at the bottom of which is a rare form of woodland marsh habitat which floods in winter and dries out in summer.
Bruce Thorogood, Chairman of the SWCS, thanked all those who had helped in any way to bring this project to a successful conclusion and explained that the area would now be held in trust for the local community in perpetuity. He also thanked Raymond Hayes, Chairman of Bartons Solicitors, who offered his legal skill pro bono.
After Councilllor Ian Catherall had spoken on behalf of Staverton Parish Council, Jacqi Hodgson cut the ribbon to the Boardwalk area of the Reserve. She was thanked for her attendance and presented with a posy of spring flowers.
Tea and cakes were enjoyed by all present.
2 Feb 2015 – the purchase has now completed!
Our community society now owns the Staverton Nature Reserve including the boardwalk. You’ll notice we’ve changed the name – we think “nature reserve” is a nicer description than “wildlife area”. We were obliged to meet a completion deadline of end of January. The society has gratefully accepted short term loans from two local residents enabling the deadline to be met. We need now to continue raising pledges of donations in order to hit the £16,000 target and repay these loans.
Work is continuing on the incredibly length process of getting a bank account set up. Once we have an account in place, we can submit our application to registered as a Community Benefit Society. We are in discussions with the regulatory body and are hopefully that our application should go through without problem. It remains unconfirmed whether we will manage to secure charitable status. If we do, we will be able to reclaim a gift-aid tax rebate from HMRC, which will lower the amount we need to raise. But in the meantime, until we have confirmation that we’ll qualify for gift aid, we must continue to aim to raise the full £16,000.
Staverton Parish Council has now agreed to sell the Boardwalk & Wildlife Area in Staverton to the newly formed Staverton Wildlife & Conservation Area Society (SWCAS). They have rescinded their earlier decision to sell it out of community ownership, but they have regrettably left that option open if SWCAS does not come up with the funds required by Jan 26.
Selling this land to SWCAS will give the Parish Council the funds it needs to purchase the allotments in Landscove from the Church Commissioners. Once they are in Parish Council ownership they automatically become ‘Statutory Allotments’ and are protected in law from change of use or being sold without the consent of the Secretary of State.
This is all great news!
SWCAS has been offered soft loans by two local people to ensure both purchases can be completed by the deadline of Jan 31 set by the Church Commissioners. We are very grateful for the great generosity of those two people which is making all this possible in the very tight timetable that has been set by the Church Commissioners agent.
We now need to raise the money to pay off these loan as quickly as possible. The money we need is £16,000 to cover the purchase price of £15001 and legal costs. We have already raised over £5,000 since the Parish Council’s extraordinary meeting on Dec 27 when they voted to rescind their decision to sell to Thulborns and sell instead to SWCAS.
That’s a brilliant start, but there’s still a long way to go!
We now need the help of the whole parish community together with supporters outside the parish to support this fundraising effort. Our target is to raise £100 from 160 people, but of course, all donations, be they bigger or smaller, will be very gratefully received and will help secure both these valuable assets in community ownership in perpetuity.
Please help us reach our target as soon as possible by completing and emailing back the pledge form (you can cut and paste it into an email). Thank you!
Chairman of the Staverton Wildlife & Conservation Society.