Information and launch event
7 February 2015
The engagement and consulting phase with community members for the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) for Pool-in-Wharfedale started on 7 February 2015 with an information event in the Village Hall. Over 100 people from all age groups came between 11 am and 3 pm on Saturday to learn more about the NP, its process and its importance, to meet the 10 Steering Group members and to find out about local groups and businesses.
There was quite a buzz in the Hall as people used the opportunity for discussion of their concerns, and also reflected on what they liked about Pool-in-Wharfedale.
Children produced some very imaginative pictures about what they would like to see in Pool in the future. Greg Mulholland, MP, paid a visit and was impressed by the interest of community members in the NP for Pool.
Over 95% of the people who came are interested in coming back to the upcoming four topic-specific consultation events during 2015.
The next one will be on Business and Employment on Thursday, 26th March.
The Information event for the NP for Pool-in-Wharfedale took place on Saturday, 7th February 2015 in the Pool Village Memorial Hall on Arthington Lane. The community was invited to take part between 11 am and 3 pm.
Members of the Steering Group started to set up the displays on Friday evening from 5 pm, continued on Saturday from 9 am and were soon joined by participating local groups and businesses who set up their own stands. While the display for the NP took centre stage, the stands of the Recreation Ground, Pool Archives, Arthington Station Action Group, Women’s Institute, Village Hall Management Group, Old Pool Bank Village Hall Management Group, James Ellis – Personal trainer and Wavelength Installations were also of much interest to the public. Children had the opportunity to draw pictures capturing their ideas. The pictures were photographed to record them for the purposes of the NP consultation, so that children could take their pictures home.
On arrival community members were greeted and welcomed by two Steering Group members and informed about the layout of the Hall. Refreshments were served by the Friday Café (a fundraising group for local charities) and there was also the opportunity, in a separate room, to watch a locally produced video about the Tour de France coming through Pool.
Community members spent considerable time at the event and were able to learn about the background to the NP, its process and its implications. Supporting material was provided in form of the Site Allocation Plan along with maps, the Greenway consultation, the results of a Neighbourhood Planning survey from early 2014 about what matters to people in the community, the Village Design Statement from 2006, the Conservation Area document and notes on the Community Infrastructure Levy. The Steering group had prepared four displays. One visualised the process of the NP development including planned dates for the different stages; another one introduced the Steering Group members with a picture and their statements about why they joined the group. The third was designed to encourage community members to stay engaged through our dedicated website, Facebook page and through a further four planned engagement and consultation events. These will each cover a different topic area throughout 2015 (Business and Employment, Transport, Living and Open Spaces). The fourth charted the population growth in the village along with the housing developments that have taken place in Pool-in-Wharfedale and the loss of amenities over the last 50 years. A number of Steering Group members staffed the displays to inform community members and discuss the issues. All Steering Group members were identifiable by their name tags.
As community members left the Village Hall they were invited to provide feedback in three different ways. They were asked to respond to the question of what they liked about Pool (community members wrote their answer on a post-it and put it on a flipchart easel; Figure 1). The question was deliberately chosen to focus on Pool’s strengths as a basis on which to build and will provide input to a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). The plan is to cover the input to the other three aspects during the upcoming engagement and consultation events.
Figure 1: Posted comments to the question ‘What do you like about Pool?’
They then stuck a coloured dot on a map of Pool-in-Wharfedale roughly indicating where they lived. The colour of the dot coded their age group (blue: under 18; red: grown-up; green: pensioner). Community members self-selected the colour of the dot. While we originally planned to stick one dot per individual, the size of the dots and the scale of the map did not allow this to be applied consistently. The idea was to capture the location and age spread of the attending community members for this event.
The third form of feedback fulfilled two functions: it was designed to provide a count of all members of the community who attended the event and to evaluate whether we had achieved the objectives of the event. We asked community members: Are you interested in coming to our other engagement events during 2015? The question was printed in large font on a poster under which there were two boxes, each with a slit opening (content was invisible). Community members were given a token (milk bottle plastic top) and asked to put it in either the box that was labelled ‘Probably not’ or in the other labelled ‘Yes, I am interested’. The sum of the tokens from both boxes would reflect the number of community members who had attended the event and had provided feedback; whereas the number of tokens from each box would indicate whether the objective of encouraging people back to our events had been met. We reasoned that someone who was willing to come back had understood the importance and opportunity the NP presented.
Evaluation and Results
Comments from community members during discussions with Steering Group members
Massive concern about transport within the village
Community members could not understand how any housing development could take place before traffic was alleviated, which included having safe walkways for children to get around the village without having to walk alongside the main road.
Concern about existing sewer system
Community members could not understand how the existing sewer system could cope with any more development, as developments in the past have used existing connections rather than paying for new ones, and in turn have contributed to the overload of the system.
Shop and café for the village (raised 6 times)
It was suggested by all that this could be situated at the Village Hall / Pool Sports and Social Club (PSSC) as it was safe for children to get to (four sets of children suggested a village shop and a cafe), easy to park, and could generate money for the village from people outside the village like walkers and commuters who may then stop to purchase coffee, cake etc.
Village community centre (raised 3 times)
Again it was suggested by all that this could be situated at the Village Hall / PSSC. One individual suggested the hall and the sports and social club should be joined together to form a small community centre with a café / shop that is open daily. Further it was suggested that the social club could be open more regularly for the benefit of the whole village.
Capitalising on the community spirit
Community members were impressed by community spirit around the Tour de France. The village looked its best as it prepared for the Tour de France last year. It was suggested that we have some sort of annual festival for Pool that focused on music, amateur dramatics or village in bloom activities, ending with an open air afternoon for all as we had last year.
It was put forward that we consider planting suitable trees along the river bank in time to replace the current ones which are retaining the bank but reaching the end of their lives.
What do community members like about Pool-in-Wharfedale?
Two Steering Group members assisted community members with the feedback, which was mostly to ensure that as many attendees as possible did give feedback before they left the Village Hall. The same Steering Group members also welcomed new attendees, so that during busy times it was possible for community members to leave without giving feedback.
We received 40 post-its about what community members like in Pool-in-Wharfedale. They highly value the village atmosphere and feeling of community, the people, the offer of activities for all ages, the countryside with its open spaces and views (Figure 2).
Figure 2: A word cloud representing the comments of community members to the question: What do you like about Pool? The size of the font reflects how often a word has been mentioned.
We also received comments about what community members were concerned about (17) and what they would like for Pool to have (14). These comments will be added to the ‘weakness’ and ‘opportunity’ aspects of the SWOT-analysis and further consultation on these aspects will be carried out.
Whom did we reach?
According to the number of dots on the map 121 community members attended the event (Figure 3); however this included Steering Group members and attendees from exhibiting village groups and businesses. In terms of age groups 10% were under 18 years old, 51% from the grown-up group and 39% from the pensioner group.
Figure 3: Photograph of parish map with age-coded dots. One dot represents a community member who attended the event and their indicative home address. Blue: under 18 years old; red: grown up; green: pensioner. To avoid overcrowding of dots on the map, the number of attending people at one address was marked on the dot, e.g. ‘2’ on one green dot means two pensioners at the address attended the event.
Are you interested?
According to the token count asking community members whether they are interested in coming to our upcoming events during 2015 we counted altogether 96 tokens. Given the above caveat (people not giving feedback during busy times) we are confident that over 100 community members attended the event. This does not include members of the Steering Group or attendees from exhibiting village groups and businesses, nor Greg Mulholland, MP, who also paid a visit.
The vast majority of attending community members (92) was interested in coming to our other engagement events and only four indicated that they probably were not.