The Congleton Partnership – How it all began!
Congleton Town Council became aware in September 2005 that a funding stream named Cheshire Rural Recovery programme ( Market Town Initiative) was available through NWDA/CCC handled by agency at Reaseheath. The pot of money was derived from a special rural recovery scheme in the aftermath of foot and mouth outbreak.
An application to be registered was sent on Oct 5th and was accepted. A condition of receiving monies was the formation of a separate MTI committee for Congleton achieved in Nov ‘05.. The MTI would need to be a partnership between the statutory bodies and the voluntary sector.
As Congleton Town Council did not have the capacity to service this committee SECE (South East Cheshire Enterprise) agreed to provide paid administrative support. A co-ordinator was appointed and through running thematic discussion groups based on the MTI handbook volunteers came forward to form the committee. A MTI health check was completed to gain an overview of the town and its aspirations.
Some very successful projects were achieved: Town entry sign, finger posts, community notice boards, a Town centre Plan, a Congleton in transition document setting out a 22point action plan for economic recovery for the town, the conversion of top floor of Town hall and Phase1 of the Dane Walk way.
About £350,000 as inward investment was secured based on 50% contributions from CRRP to projects. Matching monies came from Congleton Town Council, WREN and local trusts. By March 2008 the NWDA programme money terminated and the MTI status ended. It was decided to rename the committee as the Congleton Partnership.
A difficult period resulted. However Congleton Town Council kindly assisted by partially paying for the partnership’s co-ordinator in conjunction with some financial support from Cheshire East. Work continued on costing projects but it was a useful period in many ways: a new constitution was drawn up, the structure of the Partnership was developed with an expansion into separate sub committees:
- Business Support group
- Congleton Sustainability group
- BEARTOWN marketing Group
- Contracts and Performance Group
- Visual Congleton group
- Town centre working group
The executive consists of 22 members on an approximate ratio of 50 % statutory representatives from Cheshire East, Congleton Town Council, the Police, Fire Brigade Congleton Education Partnership with 50% drawn from the voluntary sector.
The Congleton Partnership has representation on the Congleton LAP and is recognised as a NAG.
The excellent work of the BEARTOWN team resulted in a 2010 award from the Action for Market Towns NW and are presenting on its work to the Yorkshire group of market towns in September.