Purton lobbyists stand down after nearly 20 years

Swindon Advertiser: Dr Richard Pagett of Purton Ps and Qs Dr Richard Pagett of Purton Ps and Qs

A COMMUNITY group that has represented villagers’ views for nearly 20 years will be no more as of next month.

The Purton Ps and Qs, which formed in 1994 to give residents a voice in the north Wiltshire village, will cease to lobby local and central government on issues from planning to the environment as of next month.

The group consisted of a hardcore of around five or six people, including Wiltshire Councillor Jacqui Lay, and regularly resolved issues with Wiltshire Council raised by a network of 200 villagers.

Its founder, Dr Richard Pagett, said the group will host only the second ever Local Day at Purton Village Hall on March 23 before he retires from community activism to concentrate on his professional work.

But he has called on the parish council to take up the group’s mantle to ensure villagers are aware of major issues and decisions that could impact upon them, such as the recent approval on appeal of Ridgeway Farm.

Dr Pagett, an international development adviser to governments and non-governmental organisations on climate change and the environment, said: “We were very active on all sorts of things.

“We formed in 1994 before I decided to run for parish council in 1999 and even then we began working on a parish plan but the North Wiltshire District Council, as it was then, was not interested.

“We could see what was going to happen that either the local authority could not see or did not want to deal with until Government gave them permission.

“So we were talking about sustainability and localism long before they became buzzwords.

“I think the parish council can step into the void – I hope it will and it certainly has the capacity to do so.

“I also think there’s a role for younger people in the parish council and they need to be overtly welcomed and not be put off by opposition.

“We have a network of around 200 people and we created a website, all of which we have shown the parish council how to do. It meant we were able to be fleet of foot, which I think is important and there is no reason the parish council cannot do it.”

The group has just published, as a culmination of three years of work, a comprehensive review of parish issues called Transforming Purton Parish, and Dr Pagett is set to give a talk on it to the Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Area Board at its next meeting.

The report and more information on the Local Day is available on the Ps and Qs website www.purtoninfo.org.uk

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