IT has been another busy couple of weeks, both here in Central Devon and up in Westminster.

Locally I have been out knocking on doors and listening to constituents’ concerns first-hand, in and around Exminster and Crediton.

I always listen carefully to local concerns but also observations on what we are doing in Westminster. These have been tough times but the economy has turned the corner with many more positive than for some time.

In celebration of English Tourism Week, I visited Powerham Castle, one of Devon’s many heritage attractions. Since 1391, it has been a family home and community landmark, and has over six centuries worth of history.

Powderham Castle recently benefitted from a Government grant, which funded the opening of their new Welcome Centre. This has enabled Powderham to open year-round due to increased hardstanding and weather proofing of the site. I also support worthy local funding bids.

Last week, I also met with representatives from the Hatherleigh Market Working Group, who are local stakeholders and residents working towards bringing Hatherleigh Market into local ownership. 

The team consists of District and Town councillors, the operators of Hatherleigh Market, stallholders, and legal advisors.

I met with Cllr Richard Burrow, who sits on Hatherleigh Town Council and Chairs the Hatherleigh Market Working Group, and Cllr Patrick Kimber of West Devon Borough Council, who has worked closely on this project since the beginning.

Hatherleigh Market Working Group has set up a community benefit society and are asking people to pledge money towards the match funding that is necessary to secure a grant through the Community Ownership Fund. So far, they have managed to raise around £60,000 and are steadily on their way to their goal of £100,000.

Having discussed the merits of the project with Cllr Richard Burrow and Cllr Patrick Kimber in detail, I will be writing in support of Hatherleigh Market Working Group’s Community Ownership funding bid, and offering whatever assistance I can going forward. 

The first window of Round 4 of the Community Ownership Fund opened on March 25 and will run until April 10. Voluntary and community groups can bid for funding to acquire important assets and run them for the benefit of the local community.

Thanks to this scheme, over 80 more community assets including historic theatres, pubs and museums will be protected with £33.5 million of Government funding, with successful community projects receiving up to £2 million.

In Round 3 of funding, Kennerleigh Community Shop here in Central Devon was awarded a total of £147,781. Having written to support their application, I was delighted to hear that they had been successful. I hope to see Central Devon benefit from Round 4 of funding too. 

I have visits to a number of other local enterprises scheduled in the coming months and look forward to hearing more from local businesses, constituents and community organisations alike.

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