The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) sent its Larger Councils Committee to come on board at Falmouth, Cornwall, and visit this historic town in a fact-finding mission on Tuesday 7th July. Falmouth is situated on the south coast of Cornwall and is one of the county’s most diverse, vibrant and largest towns.
The Council’s partnership working is at the heart of everything it does and no more is this case than with its Business Improvement District (BID). The Falmouth Business Improvement District (BID) is a not-for-profit company responsible for delivering a number of innovative projects that aim to improve the trading environment of Falmouth. The Falmouth BID works in partnership with the Falmouth Town Council funded Town Management function to form the Falmouth Town Team, which has been highlighted over the past five years, as an example of national best practice.
The Falmouth BID projects include:
A bespoke and award-winning visitor signage project for Falmouth
An official website for Falmouth, www.falmouth.co.uk
An early season showcase of Falmouth’s spaces and coast- Falmouth Spring Festival
A later season celebration of Falmouth’s creative heritage - SPLASH
Falmouth Town Council delivers a number of youth services and initiatives via its innovative recent partnership with the Dracaena Centre, and the Committee heard from Centre Manager Richard May about the delivery and positive effects of that service. The Council had also recent taken on greater responsibility for the environmental management of the Town and heard from Buildings and Facilities Manager Simon Penna about those operations.
The NALC group, were very impressed with the way that the Town Council utilises the community’s heritage, art, tourist attractions and museums to the benefit of local people. The Council owns and runs the famous Falmouth Art Gallery which houses one of the leading art collections in the South West of England. Under devolution plans by Cornwall Council, Falmouth is looking at taking over a number of services and assets which are important to its communities.
The town council has a wide range of other services that it delivers to the local community and this includes:
• Bus Shelters
• Parks and Gardens
• beach management
• Shuttle bus services
• town management
• event management
Councillor Jeremy Rowe, the Localism Portfolio Holder at Cornwall Council met the Committee and advised them that his council had developed a package of services to devolve to the town council including toilets, public buildings and parks and gardens. He added that the unitary authority established in 2009, is one of four areas seeking even greater devolved powers from central government. The ‘Case for Cornwall’ sees an even greater role for town and parish councils in delivering local services in the community.
Cllr Ken Cleary, chair of NALC’s Larger Councils Committee, said: “The NALC Larger Councils’ Committee have gained a huge amount and learnt much from our visit to see the huge array of services and assets managed by Falmouth Town Council. We have been hugely impressed by the commitment and professionalism of the staff and members at Falmouth Town Council and, like Cornwall Council, regard the Town Council as a beacon of excellence in joined up service delivery. We will be sharing our learning from the visit with our own larger parish and town councils across England as a result of this visit and wish the Town Council very well for the future.”
‘Councillor John Body Mayor of Falmouth said ‘We have worked hard to take the lead and create effective partnerships to deliver services that our community have told us that they want, or do not wish to see lost through cutbacks from other providers. I was delighted to welcome the delegation as it is nice to see that our good practice is being recognised by NALC and others’’.
Sarah Mason Chief executive of Cornwall Association of Local Councils, commented: “this was a fantastic opportunity to show just how far our county has moved to work together to deliver local services. Falmouth Town Council has used the opportunities under localism to become a major service provider in the town for the benefit of its community.”