The Parish Council is very keen to ensure that a village store and Post Office remains in Parracombe. Prior to the closure of the village stores in November 2017 a sub-committee of the council, with a number of co-opted volunteers, worked to assess the possibility of setting up a Community Shop and Post Office.
In June 2017 a preliminary questionnaire was send out to the community, results of which indicated that there was broad support for a community run store and post office. In September of 2017 a draft report (Community Shop Report first draft) was created by the sub-committee to outline a proposed scheme and assess its potential for success. The report provides an overview of community needs, competition, market opportunity, sample financial statement, assessment of possible locations and potential grant funding options.
Following the initial assessment and before further commitment to the project, it was clear that the PC committee needed to assess the level of voluntary and financial support available within the community to establish that such a project is feasible. At the PC meeting of 5 September 2017 it was resolved that the project should be part of the overall strategic parish plan and that a Community Land Trust should be formed into which the project would be incorporated. The Parish Council engaged with Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) and Wessex Community Land Trust Project for guidance and support in the creation of a parish plan and the formation of a trust.
In December of 2017 the Parish Council, in partnership with ENPA distributed a community questionnaire to seek the views of residents regarding key issues facing the village. In addition to finding out the level of support for the village stores, the questionnaire asked residents views on the village hall, recreation facilities and parking. The responses to the questionnaire are not only guiding the parish plan but have indicated that the level of financial and voluntary support for a community run village store is sufficient to make it a viable proposition.
The next step is the formation of a Community Land Trust (CLT) and an incorporated legal entity (most likely to be a Community Benefit Society). The Parish Council have called a public meeting at the RAOB village hall, April 12 at 7:30 to talk about the parish plan and to invite members of the community to learn more about Community Land Trusts and offer their support and ask for steering group volunteers. Representatives from Devon Communities Together, Wessex Community Land Trust Project and members of the Parish Council will be presenting and taking questions from residents about housing, the village store and other issues such as the village hall.
The Parish Council will report on the meeting proceedings and progress with the Community Land Trust at their next scheduled meeting Tuesday 1 May 2018.
Dave Austin (Cllr) Chair Village Shop Sub Committee