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Have your say about Totnes

Community engagement is recognised as a way for local people to have a direct say about what matters most to them about where they live. It helps to identify priorities for how public money is used to address local needs.
With a new Council now in place, it is important to plan for improvements in our area for residents and local businesses.  Over the next few months, Totnes Town Council will develop a new Totnes Town Council Strategy for 2024-2030 which will inform our key priorities and budget setting over the term of the current Council (until 2027).
We need your help by contributing your views as residents and business owners in Totnes.  Your thoughts on what matters most to the community are essential to help the Council set our plans for the coming years.
We will be asking some key questions throughout the town this summer in person and online giving everyone an opportunity to have their say. To encourage participation, all completed and valid surveys (postcode within the parish boundary, no duplicate entries) will be entered into a draw to win £50 to spend with a local business or donate to a local charity (again within the parish boundary).

The deadline for responses is 5pm on Wednesday 6th September 2023.
What do we do and what don't we do?

The Town Council is the first level of local government providing the community with a democratic voice and a structure for taking community action. The Town Council raises its own budget primarily through a small part of the Council Tax bill.

The Town Council works to improve community well-being and provide better services. Our activities fall into three main categories: representing the local community; delivering services to meet local needs; striving to improve quality of life and community well-being.

WE HAVE TO: Provide and maintain the cemetery, St Mary’s churchyard, our historic buildings, the Civic Hall.

WE CAN:  Provide and maintain a variety of important and visible local services including allotments, burial grounds, bus shelters, commons and open spaces, community transport schemes, community safety and crime reduction measures, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, planning consultation, street cleaning and lighting, tourism activities, traffic calming measures and youth projects.

WE CAN’T: Repair potholes, collect waste, manage road closures, approve or decline planning applications, give out licenses for events and businesses, provide adult and child social services, clear drains, repair the local swimming pool, respond to nuisance complaints, change car parking charges, decide on how on street parking is managed.

We last consulted the community in 2019 on its priorities and the results and what we did in response is on our website – This demonstrates that your opinions and responses really will directly impact what the Council spends on over the next term of 4-5 years.

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* 1. Are you a resident or business owner?

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* 2. What three words would you use to describe what you like about Totnes?

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* 3. What three words would you use to describe what you would like Totnes to be in 5 years?

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* 4. Which of the following themes is most important to you as a resident or worker in Totnes? (if several please tick up to 3 you consider most vital):

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* 5. The Town Council has core functions it must undertake, such as maintaining the Totnes Cemetery. However, over the years, the Town Council has expanded its role both to better deliver for the residents of Totnes in response to previous community surveys and responding to the national challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic or the cost-of-living crisis.

To inform its priorities, can you please tick the top six projects or initiatives you consider most important from the list below?

The Town Council has in some previous years added an additional surcharge to the Council Tax to fund local initiatives and services such as the examples in the above list. What we receive, for an average Band D property, would be equivalent to around £17 per month. We want to know what would you like to see happen for 2024/25 so please complete the answers to the next three questions.

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* 6. Minimal increase (0-5% or about £0.86 per month per band D property) in Council Tax and a focus on core responsibilities (Cemetery, churchyard, holding meetings, building maintenance)

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* 7. Small increases (5-10% or about £1.71 per month per band D property) in Council Tax to maintain local services and projects outlined in this survey

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* 8. Larger increases (10-20% or about £3.42 per month per band D property) in Council Tax to improve and develop local services

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* 9. Do you have any other feedback or ideas about the Town to share?

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* 10. What age bracket do you fall into? This helps us ensure we are getting responses across the whole spread of local people.

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* 11. Providing your details is optional, however it would help us to avoid duplicate responses and determine whether these responses are from local people and business owners in Totnes. If we cannot prove you are local your results may be presented separately in the final report. Please note that your information will not be used for any purpose other than this survey and you must complete this to be entered into the prize draw.

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* 12. Would you like someone to contact you about your survey responses? (we will only do so if you are drawn as the prize draw winner or if you ask a question on the survey. If your name is drawn and you have chosen no here we will have to redraw)

Thank you for completing this survey, it is really appreciated. If you have a moment a message from the Mayor:

Cllr Emily Price

 “This is your chance to say what you want the Town Council to do in the coming years.  We need you to tell us what matters most to you so we can make sure we plan projects and spend public money effectively to meet those needs.

“Providing grants to support our local community groups, improving the appearance of our streets and helping local businesses to thrive with an active tourism strategy, all cost money, which is collected from a surcharge on the  Council Tax.  We recognise the importance of striking a balance between meeting the identified needs of the residents and supporting our strengths as a community with the clear need to keep the surcharge on the Council Tax as affordable as possible.

“In 2023-24, Totnes Town Council received £205.23 from the average £2,383.13 Band D annual Council Tax payment (or about £17 a month / £4 a week). The remainder is given to Devon County Council. South Hams District Council, Police, Fire Service With that money, we meet our legal duties such as managing the cemetery on Plymouth Road as well as investing in initiatives and projects that  local people have previously told us they want us to prioritise such as:

·       such as supporting vulnerable people in the community,

·       employing a Town Maintenance Officer to help keep the town looking its best,

·       supporting heritage organisations like Totnes Museum,

·       and proactively promoting the town to visitors to help local businesses to flourish.

The cost of living crisis and the state of the economy means that providing the services that meet people’s needs is costing ever more so the Council is keen to ensure that residents are consulted on the choices ahead:

·       to  spend more to deliver additional services and increase the surcharge for these services;

·       to pay marginally more to maintain current services or;

·       to  reduce the services we offer and thus slightly reduce the overall Council Tax bill.

To help understand the priorities of the community we need to  know what services residents think are most important and which, if any, are less important.  We need the views from as many residents and business owners in Totnes as possible to make sure we plan projects that local people want to see happening in town.”
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