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SSDC Makes Market Towns "Fight Over Scraps"

Sunday 14 October 2012, 14:00
By John Smith

John Smith, Chairman of Wincanton Businesses TogetherWalking round our High Street recently, delivering leaflets for the 2012 Christmas Extravaganza, I was very encouraged. Wincanton is not a big enough town to attract the national names that we find in Yeovil or other large towns, but that means that over many years our High Street has evolved into a very unique place, with a character of its own, and we need to play to those strengths.

However, along the way we do experience ups and downs. We saw our Town Team apply twice to get a slice of the Mary Portas funding. Sadly that wasn't to be. But that's ok as the dreams behind the Town Team are achievable even without Mary Portas funding.

Next we have a follow up grant of £100,000 being given to SSDC (and other Councils) as a further support to High Street regeneration. This is very encouraging indeed. So what has, or is happening, to this money?

Divine Wines, Wincanton High StreetI finished my trek around Wincanton High Street at Divine Wines, where you can buy quality wine and spirits, but also a mean cup of coffee and chocolate. And to accompany that Jenny serves an amazing cinnamon swirl.

Whilst enjoying this well-deserved treat I was approached by a friend who informed me that SSDC had indeed received £100,000 funding to help regenerate Market Town High Streets. Further enquiries revealed that because Yeovil is by far the largest Market Town in our area, a decision was taken to allocate Yeovil 30% of this fund with all other Market Towns left to apply for a share of the pool. My belief is that this fund is open to all Market Towns, even if they didn't apply for The Mary Portas Scheme Funding.

I can't argue that Yeovil is the biggest Market Town in our area. However this seems to be a clear example of one rule for one and a different ball game for the rest. Why isn't Yeovil applying like all the other Market Towns? Why is Yeovil given all the treats and all the others left to fight over scraps like dogs and cats under the table?

Wincanton High Street

Observing what is happening around us I see a growing feeling of dissatisfaction at the way in which SSDC administers finances. Time after time we see Yeovil picking up the cream and the rest of the towns and villages fighting for the crumbs. If that isn't bad enough it seems crazy to me that SSDC officials still try to deny or put spin on their actions, claiming that because Yeovil is our main area town, everyone understands that they should always have the lion's share. It seems that SSDC may be the only people who actually believe that. Maybe they don't really believe that other towns and villages exist beyond the Yeovil boundary. We get told that all our towns and villages get subsidised by Yeovil.

I wonder? Does anyone else believe that? I am beginning to think that it's the other way round. I believe that Yeovil tends to ride high on the backs of all the surrounding towns and villages.

I made some enquiries about this fund and to find out why Yeovil doesn't need to apply like the rest of us. I was told that a committee which has representation from all market towns made this decision. Making further enquiries from one of our own District Councillors I was told that this was utter balderdash. It seems that committee may actually involve a very select few. Maybe Mr Pallister and Mr Carroll would care to give an open and transparent explanation?

Wincanton High Street

Isn't it time that our elected body actually tried to earn the respect of us mere mortals in the towns and villages? I have this rather naïve belief that people who are elected to ssuch bodies (from lowly Town and District Councils through to Parliament) are elected to "SERVE" and not ride roughshod over their constituents without any accountability. It seems that accountability stops with public finance.

Has anyone else out there experienced that sinking feeling when funding that was promised to finance an important local project is suddenly diverted to another worthy project...in Yeovil? I would be interested to hear what all you town and village councils have to say on this one.




Comments

Victor Meldrew
Posts: 4
Comment
Re: SSDC Makes Market Towns "Fight Over Scraps"
Reply #1 on : Mon October 15, 2012, 15:03:26
I was under the impression that Mr Carroll declined to represent Wincanton in the last election, prefering to represent a Yeovil Ward,(to enhance his Yeovil Ward County Council seat?) so it Mr Colbert the question needs referring.
Nick Colbert
Posts: 1
Comment
Fighting over the scraps
Reply #2 on : Mon October 15, 2012, 22:17:23
John has raised another example of Wincanton, and all non Yeovil areas being treated like a cash machine by the Lib/dem majority in Yeovil. Funnily enough Yeovil is not classified as a market town in SSDC but a primary town, Wincanton is a market town, however when cash is available Yeovil seems able to change its status. When I argued that the £100,000 was for the market towns in SSDC I was told "But Yeovil has more closed up shops than anywhere else."

If that is the case why did SSDC increase parking charges in Yeovil this year (answer: so they can keep wasting money on their pet projects - £340,000+ this year in subsidies down the throat of the Octagon Theatre alone) when it inevitably damages their shopping centre.

I am afraid when it comes to ripping us off Victor is right Mr Carrol knew they had been rumbled and chose to represent Yeovil as that was where they were spending our money.

To prove the point

(1) Before the election we were told by the Lib/dem candidate there would be no car parking charges in Wincanton. Soon after the election it was pay up or we will introduce car parking charges so now SSDC receives £20K+ per annum from the people of Wincanton to keep parking free.

(2) We now know 80% of all off site health and leisure 106 monies raised in Wincanton is taken straight to Yeovil for spending there so you can help the environment by regularly driving there for your sport, theatre or leisure. (Sick joke).

(3) Now we learn that Yeovil is suddenly classified as a market town (it is not in the core strategy) when there is money for the other market towns they can covet.

We are fighting hard for Wincanton and gaining some successes but the Liberal Democrats favour Yeovil as their jewel in the crown, sadly their policies are turning it into a ghost town.

My wife and her friend Karen went to Yeovil last week, they were shouted and sworn at when they walked passed a man sitting in an empty shop doorway. They had ignored him but he proceeded to follow them into a shoe shop swearing and accusing them of being benefit scroungers. They had to call security at the Quedam. I suspect they will not be going to Yeovil for a while.
Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 22:18:33 by Nick Colbert  
Victor Meldrew
Posts: 4
Comment
Re: SSDC Makes Market Towns "Fight Over Scraps"
Reply #3 on : Mon October 15, 2012, 23:01:35
There used to be a nasty smell around Yeovil over a certain development. It seem as if the smell not only is still there but getting worse. WHat dsisgusts me most though, is the fact that someone decided that the CEO is worth so much, especially as the `Crime Commisioner` is only getting less than half for a more important job! Can anybody explain why the CEO(or whatever the titleis) is paid over £135
johnsmith
Posts: 1
Comment
Salary
Reply #4 on : Tue October 16, 2012, 09:05:15
Crumbs Victor the poor CEO is being paid way below the national poverty line. He would earn more on the dole. Did you mean weekly, monthly or annually. Weekly looks better.
Victor Meldrew
Posts: 4
Comment
Re: SSDC Makes Market Towns "Fight Over Scraps"
Reply #5 on : Tue October 16, 2012, 17:09:39
OOPPS. I forgot the `K` (Thou to some). But I think I put what he is worth!
Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 17:10:07 by Victor Meldrew  
Victor Meldrew
Posts: 4
Comment
Re: SSDC Makes Market Towns "Fight Over Scraps"
Reply #6 on : Tue October 23, 2012, 10:30:32
Another couple of questions have sprung to mind. Where is the £21m that was raised by selling the Council housing stock in the Thatcher era. Also what has happened the money (if any) from what was South Somerset Homes, on the transfer to Yarlington and its apparent susequent sale?

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