Action Groups - Action Group on Heritage
To Parish Plan volunteers:
Action Group on Heritage
Many people responded to the Parish Plan survey and feedback by offering to help set-up an Action Group dealing with heritage issues. By ‘heritage’ we mean all aspects of the cultural and physical environment of Barrow upon Soar (history, wildlife, archaeology, buildings, landscape, etc) which make it an attractive place to live and visit. I have been given the job of seeing if we can get such a group started.
Barrow’s heritage – interpreted in this very wide sense - is highly valued and received some of the highest ‘scores’ in the survey. It matters to us that we are surrounded by pleasant countryside, that we have access to parks and open spaces, that it is an attractive village. A lot of people want it made even more attractive. For example:
• 75% want “all traffic islands to be planted and maintained as nicely as Jerusalem roundabout
• 72% say clean up the Soar Bridge/Barrow Deep Lock/Proctors area
• 67% want more flower baskets in the streets
• 63% want to develop a continuous park from Cotes Rd round to the Millennium Park when the Willow Way estate is built
• 58% want car parking for visitors by the canal/river
• 57% want more wildlife guides and 56% want more history guides
• 56% want an A-Z street guide on display and as a leaflet
• 42% want the Soar valley made into a proper ‘countryside park’ with a useable footpath/cycleway
The general point is that people are saying that this is an attractive place to live and they want it kept that way. They want their heritage protected and enhanced.
One important step we have taken is to create a heritage sub-group of the Barrow upon Soar Community Association. That may not sound like much! Its importance is that it gives us legal cover to apply for external funds for projects and insurance cover for activities.
Using that mechanism, we have just bid for and been awarded £18,425 to do 4 specific projects over the next 2 years: a guide to the archaeology of Barrow upon Soar; a guide to trees and shrubs; a guide to walks in the countryside; and a street guide with history. These will result in written booklets/leaflets/maps and an exhibition and a programme of talks to village organizations and pages on the village website and articles in the community newspaper.
In addition, we have undertaken to run 2 ‘capacity building’ activities to facilitate the specific projects and build skills for taking on a wider range of projects in Year 3 and beyond: training in digital image manipulation; and cataloguing the existing resources locally (public and private collections).
Also, we will launch the ‘Heritage Group’ as a mechanism for stimulating community interest and as a means of disseminating information. The original Local Studies Society thrived for about 10 years until the organisers ran out of energy. We think it is realistic to re-launch it to harness and stimulate the current groundswell of interest. We would like it to cover the full range of heritage studies in the village, including those of the existing archaeology fieldwalking group and the family history group. We have funds to get in expert speakers for our meetings but it would be interesting not just to rely on external speakers but to make time for the various study groups to keep us up-dated on their findings. That way we will encourage our own research and learn from each other. We have closed the Local Studies Society account and transferred the balance of about £1,393 into a new account for the heritage group. This means we have our own kitty to get things started.
The ‘grand plan’, I suggest, for Years 3 and beyond, is to undertake specific projects in all heritage areas (eg booklets about the local landscape; the buildings and the development of the village; a social history of the village/oral history; and a history of local industries). I do not think we have enough volunteers to undertake these, now, as well as the proposed specific projects so, being pragmatic, I suggest we tackle them later. A bid for grants to do these can be made separately in due course.
So, those are my ideas and actions to date. Does any of this interest you? Do you want to be involved in any of these? Have you other ideas that we could undertake?
[I realise that my interests have driven the agenda so far. For instance, I have not pushed for an active involvement in making the village look more attractive or for helping to keep it looking attractive. I assume that some of you will be more interested in those things than in the study groups that interest me. I believe that Luke Smith of the Parish Council has offered to act as co-ordinator for a series of projects aimed at improving the physical surroundings of the village. Please contact Luke at the Parish Office.]