What a great shining community we are

Torbay Weekly

My first column on all matters Cullompton has as many challenges and opportunities for me as there are for our town. I want to balance threats with opportunities, good and bad stories, but particularly highlight what a great sharing caring community we are.

Most of the challenges relate to the development of a town at a strategic position between Bristol, Taunton, Exeter and Plymouth, right on the motorway, with a Georgian historic town centre that is not designed for the levels of traffic that need to pass through it for commuting, servicing other towns, shortcuts to commercial/industrial locations and as the strategic relief road for the M5 whenever the frequent closures occur.

There are proposals for the eastern relief road that requires a further injection of government funding to free up the town centre for its much-needed revamp to protect its historic conservation area.

Interestingly, £1m plus has been granted to carry out the Heritage Action Zone infrastructure improvements to properties and the street scene, but nothing can be done until the road is completed.

In the meantime, all the issues of traffic queues and difficulties with delivery blockages are causing real issues to the town businesses and pollution issues, plus the damage to buildings, accidents and general frustration. All this can be overcome by removing the collective digit at District and County level authorities and getting it over the line.

The railway station project has had a £5m injection to get things moving - that will be a clear positive for the town to be embraced.

I touched on population growth and, with over 1,500 homes planned and a garden village of possibly 3,000 homes (one of 14 nationally identified by central government), the local infrastructure is creaking at the seams.

A new Primary school is to be built in the North West Development, along with the spine road intended to aid the bottleneck at Tiverton Rd /Fore St junction (the picture shows the developer poster for phase 1).

However, new infrastructure will be required to support all this building, including a relief road, enhanced motorway junction, railway station, doctors and schools - the senior school is undergoing expansion but will no way cope with a growth from 4,000 to 8,000-plus homes.

On the positive, a town of under 10,000 has Tesco, Aldi, Home Bargains and Mole Valley, although their presence makes it very difficult for small independents to survive in the town centre unless they have a great reputation like Veyseys, leading to the development of a town of hospitality, services and things you can't buy on the internet.

Hats off to all those who put their money where their mouth is and give it a go. In future columns, I want to highlight the many businesses in Cullompton that give a centre to the community.

We have a renowned fortnightly Farmers Market, a weekly (but sadly struggling) market run by the Town Council, regular craft fairs in the Walronds and the Hayridge and Community centres that are, post-Covid, looking to reinvent themselves and offer facilities to the community.

Many know of my involvement as Chair of the CCA charity, which is a major asset for the town and we are intending to build its usage with events and rentals, so that we can support the community as identified.

We have a major event on 23/24 July, the Great Cullompton Festival, which includes craft, food, cider, beer, music, fairground and entertainment all available with free entry for those who walk up. Further details are being made available all the time but enough to say that the Charity is receiving a very reasonable donation from the event.

We also host other events, including rugby Tots 2-7 year old starting every weekend from the end of March, Mini-Kickers at the Football club on Sunday mornings, the bouncy castle (big event) on 23/24 April, the annual fairground visit us on 24 April for a month and the Obedience Dog Show for the late May Bank Holiday weekend.

There is also the possibility of a charity fundraising event in late August /September in conjunction with a large retailer. The Queens Platinum Jubilee in June is being looked at by a working group and the CCA has offered its fields for any events planned.

I will try to highlight new businesses & existing businesses weekly, so look out for them in the coming weeks.

If you wish to pass contributions, suggestions or respond to issues raised, please feel free to email me at iainemmett@hotmail.com

This is a community column for local stories.