Montgomery Town Council - working hard today for a better tomorrow

Vale of Montgomery Rural Cluster of Councils - Cluster Development Project

The Vale of Montgomery Rural Cluster of Councils VMRC) are looking to appoint a development worker for 120 hours to be worked flexibly as required from August - March 2019 for a specific task oriented project. £16.83 ph + travel expenses.

We require someone with experience of working with community groups in rural areas. The person appointed will be able to work on their own initiative in a focussed, planned and thorough manner. They will be well organised and an excellent communicator.

The postholder will be responsible to the Cluster project steering group and nominally employed by Montgomery Town Council.

Applying: Applicants should provide a brief CV + two referees and an outline of how you would approach the development project and achieving the two outcomes.

Applications should be mailed to the Clerk to VMRC, Glenys Smith, by 1700 on Monday July 9th.

Background to the Cluster and the project

The Vale of Montgomery Rural Cluster of Councils (VMRC) was established in 2015 as an equal partnership of Abermule with Llandyssil; Montgomery; Berriew; Kerry, Sarn and Dolfor; Forden, Leighton and Trelystan Councils, representing in the order of 8 000 residents. Originally formed in response to aborted County Council moves towards service devolution, VMRC continued in order to share information and explore co-operative working to the benefit of our communities and possible future devolved service delivery.

VMRC is a constituted group with its own Terms of Reference. It is an equal partnership with no lead Council. Each constituent Council nominates two councillors to attend quarterly meetings as voting representatives. County Councillors for each area are invited to attend. The Cluster has an elected Chair and Vice-Chair and a Clerk nominally employed by Montgomery Town Council. Smaller working groups are established as required for specific projects.

Community surveys have indicated issues of importance to our communities and underpin our thinking. One result of this has been that the Cluster secured external funding for, established and managed a Footpaths Volunteer project.

There are many issues of common concern to our rural communities including highways, street scene, litter, playgrounds/recreation facilities. The Cluster has not yet moved forward with a delivery plan given limitations of time; difficulties in obtaining accurate information on existing costs; the variety of delivery contracts in the VMRC and to a certain extent, a 'wait and see' approach to reduced County Council services. The feasibility study would draw together all the information and cost out various solutions for consideration.

VMRC wishes to address environmental issues such as grass cutting, verge maintenance, blocked drains, reducing litter etc throughout the Cluster area. Currently this is carried out piecemeal: partly by the County Council, individual town / community councils and voluntary effort. We aim to investigate the feasibility of a co-ordinated, whole area agreed approach and protocol for maintenance.

Of increasing concern is the financial viability of community centres which play such a vital role in rural life. Removal of Local Authority grants, ever rising costs, increasing regulation and legal requirements and difficulties in recruiting to management committees in these challenging circumstances are areas the VMRC is keen to assist, particularly as it is increasingly Town and Community Councils who provide core financial support. VMRC considers that a cross-community support network could usefully be established to share knowledge, expertise and resources, achieve economies of scale and increase the confidence and skills of the management committees.

Purpose of the project:

1. To establish a support network for community centres in the constituent council areas to support operation, co-operation and community involvement, and
2. To carry out a feasibility study into the methods and costs of delivering some cross-community environment maintenance services identified by the community.

Looking to achieve:

1. Potential of improved local services; a coherent approach to local delivery; economies of scale and opportunities to link into other local and National initiatives. Examples of areas identified by the communities include: - snow clearing and co-ordinated grit delivery; roadside litter clearance; drain clearance on County roads reducing risk of flooding and pothole development; joint playground inspections and basic maintenance; public bin provision and emptying, and garden refuse recycling

This does not preclude other issues emerging in the course of the project or exploration of services that can no longer be provided by Powys County Council.

2. An autonomous Community Centre management support group across our communities to maximise on skills and expertise and explore potential economies e.g. economic and efficiency savings through joint purchasing and procurement arrangements; equipment sharing; electronic booking systems; recruiting community volunteers ; joint insurance arrangements; joint cleaning / caretaking arrangements; regulatory compliance - policies and procedures, training and information cascade and updating system; sharing small library facilities.

Again the list is not prescriptive and the development worker will explore what individual community centres do and what they would like to offer. We would hope the exercise will provide some financial benefits to centres, improved resources, regulation compliant buildings and operation and better recruitment of community volunteers.

If you would like any further information or an informal discussion of the project then please contact

Cllr. Jill Kibble: