Bovey Tracey Players have used a performing space in the Bovey Tracey Town Hall for many years. However, the performing space is under threat as the Town Council has put the hall up for sale without any alternative provision to continue with the ability to put on performances. A sad state of affairs.
So I decided to write to some of our town councillors to see what their position on the sale was. Apart from one councillor, the rest were disinterested and seemed more concerned about how I found their email addresses than answering the points and concerns raised. Phone numbers are listed on the town council website http://www.boveytracey.gov.uk/serving-councillors.php but no email address which, in this day and age gives the impression they are trying to hide. So below is the email I sent and the responses I received so you can make up your own mind on how they are performing as councillors.
My email ……
I am writing to you in your position as a town councillor with regard to the proposed sale of the Town Hall and hope you can alleviate my fears and let me know your views on its sale?
My concern is that the sale of the Town Hall will remove the only performing space in the area which I think will be a sad loss of a community asset. It appears that the proposed new new town hall will provide a meeting room and councillor facilities, and apart from a library, no further facilities for the community? That doesn’t seem to support performing arts in Bovey?
I know that one reason for the proposed sale is that ‘it’s under used’. Frankly I am not surprised as I had no idea it was available for hire or how to hire it. Searching the council website gives no mention of it as a community asset available for use, and indeed a search of the Internet brings the same result. I understand it has been mentioned in the Quality Update newsletter but the only mention I found in the Feb edition was it was lost in a sea of text which, with human nature being what it is, was probably not read by the majority. So if it’s not marketed it’s no wonder it’s not used.
It needs refurbishment that’s true but I think having somebody who takes on the role to market it would help to get it used as much as it should be. Having previously lived in a village with a village hall that was in constant use, I don’t see why Bovey being somewhat larger should not be able to use the hall a lot more than it is currently. With the lights and PA apart from the use by the Players, there is no reason why it could not be used as a music and performing venue as well as exhibitions, film nights and private parties. More use of the hall would bring people into the town, which, sadly, appears to be dieing and in desperate need of visitors.
So please, do not sell the hall until further work has been done with interested community groups to look at how it can be used more frequently. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Please encourage your fellow councillors not to sell the hall and support a proper community study into how it can be used.
Thanks and kind regards
So. Polite I hope you agree and opening the door to dialogue…. Well not really no. I sent it to the following councillors on the 26th June and the responses I got are below
Anna Kinkenburg -Response received on the 7th July, 11 days after my email and 1 day after I emailed again expressing my disappointment that no acknowledgement or response had been received.
This email address is my private email address for my family and friends.Your email is not private but Council/Councillor related; I will respond to any email sent to my Cllr email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org, perhaps you will kindly let me know how and where you got my private email details from.
17th July – No further response as yet, despite my following up her email to her council address, so another chasing email sent today. So it appears she doesn’t respond to emails unless pushed. This backs up a previous experience to the only other email I sent to her Teignbridge address on the 15th August 2013 I’m still waiting for a reply for that one too!
UPDATE – I did get a response from Anna on the 20th July, almost a month after my original email.
Thank you for your emails and apologise I haven’t got back to you sooner.
I have had a few days way and prior to that my old council email address had been discontinued internally at TDC and nothing had been forwarded to my current one, consequently they had to set up another internal address to enable me to access my mail.
In answer to your question, I will make up my mind when we have had the debate at the Bovey Tracey TC meeting. I have noted your comments and they will be taken into consideration when making my decision.
Again I apologise if I hadn’t responded to any email sent to me, I do not know what had happened to it.
Steven Leigh – Response received on the 7th July, 11 days after my email and 1 day after I emailed again expressing my disappointment that no acknowledgement or response had been received.
This is my work email address. Can I ask that you do not use it again, because we have rules here about personal email use. I will forward it to my home email and reply to you in due course.
17th July – No further response as yet so another chasing email sent. Mind you to be fair, ‘in due course’ could mean years if my experience of Anna’s lack of replies is anything to go by.
Robert Ashby – Robert actually replied on the 1st July following my 26th June email without me having to ‘remind’ him. Well done Robert. Although there seems to be some fence sitting going on. What do you think?
Thank you for your recent email which I have read with interest. I have also considered your thoughts and those of others who have communicated in a similar vein and will have these in mind when discussing the way forward with other Councillors.
Avril Kerswell – Same as Anna and Steven. No response until my ‘reminder’ on the 6th July.
Thank you for your emails whichI have read with interest and will certainly give great thought to your proposals and ideas.
Polite I think you’ll agree but a bit of a standard fob off response meaning she’s deleted the message and her ‘great thoughts’ won’t go much further. Prove me wrong Avril.
Tony Allen – Now Tony is currently the Deputy Mayor and also writes a regular column in town newsletter a so I expected great things from him as clearly he likes to communicate with the community. And he did, he replied on the 30th June with no prompting. Top marks so far.
Thank you for your email with your views about the future of the Town Hall.The council is seeking a solution for the Town Hall that will give best value to the town, so it will be interesting to see what the bids we receive have to offer.I’m sure the council will be giving an update on the situation once these have been received, and all options are considered.
OK, polite but no attempt to engage in dialogue. Standard fob off response written all over it. Disappointing Tony sorry.
Tina Richardson – Tina like Tony responded on the 30th June so well done Tina.
Thank you for your e-mail. Please note that I have noted the contents.
The only councillor who took the time to engage with my email was Chris Robillard. Chris is freshly elected and he is the only councillor from the 7 out of 12 I contacted who gave me any hope that he is representing his community and doesn’t see us as irritants. I don’t know him and, as far as I know I’ve never met him, but thanks Chris for doing what you were elected to do.