MID Devon District Council hosted its Annual State of the District Debate last month, with this year’s topic being collaboratively working with town and parish councils.

The debate, held on Wednesday, March 20, was opened by Chairman of the Council, Frank Letch who was joined by 75 people representing councils from across the district.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Luke Taylor, Chief Executive, Stephen Walford, Cara Stobart from Devon Association of Local Councils, and Nora Corkery from Devon Communities Together all spoke at the event, which was structured around six key subject themes, each facilitated by a Cabinet member and senior officer of the Council.

Subjects included planning, shared costs and services, community housing and neighbourhood planning, climate change and sustainability, emergency planning and community resilience and joint working.

Councillor Richard Ward, Chairman from Sandford Parish Council, said about the event: "It was a great opportunity to meet councillors from other towns and parishes. And a good start to the conversation between parishes and Mid Devon District Council."

Councillor Luke Taylor, Leader of the Council, commented: “It was fantastic to see so many Parish and Town Councillors attend this new style of State of the District Debate.

“In the past these debates had been merely used as a tick box exercise with dull debates that didn't necessarily touch on the subjects that our residents and Parishes care so passionately about.

“This was because previous administrations didn't want to hear the issues that affected people.

“The difference with this administration is that we do!

“We want to work collaboratively with other Parishes and listen to what they say. The information taken will be used to proactively improve working relationships and deliver to the residents of Mid Devon on what they actually want.”

The District Council would like to thank all town and parish representatives who engaged in the event, which will form the basis of a closer working relationship between all of our councils.

Summaries of the subject overviews have already been shared with all local councils and will form the basis of continued collaborative working.

Chief Executive, Stephen Walford, added: “I am grateful to all those who gave their time to this discussion; to colleagues working across Devon to support town and parish networks, to those who helped prepare and run the event, and most importantly to those who participated in the conversations around how we can work together in future to build on the vast amount of local knowledge held at community level.”