Midsomer Norton Forum and Community Plan

Question and Answer Brief


Creating a Community Plan

In order to shape the future direction of Midsomer Norton it is essential that as a town we have a strong Community Plan. However, the key to success lies in local implementation and ensuring the opportunity to interpret and present the output in a range of ways.

Rather than getting in consultants, the Town Council brought together all the 100 community groups in the town to create the Midsomer Norton Forum from which a Steering Group was formed to carry out a consultation to include everyone – young and old in the town. The Midsomer Norton Forum members then worked to produce a wider community plan for the town.

On the 24th October 2012 the process kicked off in earnest with a meeting of community group leaders to begin identifying key issues to be addressed by a detailed survey of residents. With a professional facilitator leading the session a wide range of issues were identified covering virtually every aspect of community life in Midsomer Norton for all ages.

Thanks to Somer Valley FM, who carried out a series of interviews in the street, Forum members were able to compare their thoughts with the views of residents on what they would like to see improved in Midsomer Norton.

“The next step is to gain initial inputs from a range of representative groups across the town as a basis for developing a questionnaire. We can then see if we are asking the right questions with a pilot survey before every house in the town is sent a final questionnaire. Once we’ve got the completed questionnaires back and the feedback collated, for the first time ever we will have a very clear idea of what the community needs are in Midsomer Norton”, said Jenny Hillman, Chair of the Midsomer Norton Forum.

They become us and we all have a say- Dom Chambers

It is an inevitable result of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives that we must spend some time in a queue waiting for ‘our turn’. So there we are in the shop or at the bus stop and the time passes pleasantly enough as we ‘log on’ to the conversation of others. These are little gobbets of customised ‘soap opera’ that serve to help us through the day.

On such occasions how many times have we overheard an item of intelligence heralded by the notion of, “Do you know what they are doing down such and such a street,” or “they’re planning to do this, that or the other.”? Who and what are ‘they’? This mystical, all powerful authority, that wields such influence on the machinations of the area we live and work in. They are the decision makers!

In July of 2012 The Midsomer Norton Forum elected a Steering committee. All very Captain Mainwaring and Walmington-On-Sea. So you might think up to the point of knowing this group steered us all to have a say in the future of the town. The decision makers still decide but we can all influence the process. “Really”, we say as the queue shuffles forward, “How is that then?”

In the autumn of 2013 we all had the chance to participate in a comprehensive survey that had a direct bearing on how Midsomer Norton develops. The steering committee was commissioned with making sure that the questions asked in that survey were an accurate reflection of what all of us, at all ends of the community, wanted to see achieved out of a town development plan. To that end they organised focus groups which will established what questions were to be put in the survey.

In the past the big ‘They’ have made decisions about town life that have not always worked well. Now we all have had the opportunity to influence a better future. It was ‘our turn’ to take the chance to influence this process for ‘They’ became ‘Us’ and that had to be a good news for Midsomer Norton.