The consultation plan on the draft Barry Town Action Plan finished recently, and I was glad to once again be able offer feedback on ideas put forward by the Barry Town Survey Steering Group.
The intention of the survey was to get the opinions from as many people in Barry as possible about their hopes for the future of the town, and with several thousand different responses received from adults and children when the survey was conducted in 2007, the steering group did a good job in getting responses down on paper.
Those responses were recorded and then recently released as a ‘draft action plan’ made up of a series of different categories and put out to consultation before the final report is laid.
In my response (edited for space in the Echo report), I welcomed the draft action plan and the hard work put in by the steering group, a mixture of volunteers from the community and town councillors, and agreed with many of the recommendations that they made.
However, I made two further suggestions to the group, whom I first met back in July 2007 when I was lecturing in quantitative and qualitative methodology at Cardiff University.
The first is to take into consideration the different economic situation in which we find ourselves now in 2009 compared to when the responses were received back in 2007.
This could perhaps be solved through a short meeting with local residents who can quickly identify the changes in needs since the survey was drafted, e.g. the effect of the loss of the cinema and impact of the recession, or, alternatively, the announcement of improved public transport for the Vale and the completion of work on the town centre.
The second was then a meeting with stakeholders in various parts of society, e.g. representatives of the voluntary sector, the business sector etc., who can help identify the areas where progress can be made or have the greatest short-term and long-term impact, and ensure that the action plan doesn’t just become a ‘wish list’.
This would make the final action plan more relevant to 2009/2010 as well as making it clear how progress can be made and how it can be defined.
Such a substantial body of work shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste, so any way in which we can ensure that the ideas of the action plan are put into place need to be followed up.