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Council Spotlight: Stratton St Margaret Parish Council

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Stratton St Margaret Parish Council in Wiltshire has a population of 23,000 and a precept of £1,165,809 and it prides itself on its strong role within the community, putting on regular community events such as the increasingly popular Stratton Festival. The council maintains around 30 green spaces and numerous community facilities, ensuring community groups and charities maintain an active presence in the area.

Every year, the council support a charity nominated by the chairman. This year it was the Alzheimer's Society, with aspirations to equal the impressive £1,200 raised for last year's charity, CALM. The council has strong relationship with other charities, hosting MacMillan Coffee Mornings and fundraising efforts by the NSPCC, Swindon Stroke Support Group and many more.

The council also works closely with local businesses, from large to independent, from caterers to marketing companies. Going above and beyond their duties, the council form a fundamental centre to join the large parish together into one thriving community.

The council has recently taken over the Upper Stratton library from Swindon Borough Council to ensure it remains open as a valued community asset for residents, ensuring residents are not deprived of much needed resources.

Stratton St Margaret Parish Council has also created an innovative business plan to transform the library into a Community Hub, sustaining everything from education to IT to opportunities for social participation. There are visions for regular clubs and activities for all ages, and even a new café, truly bringing the community together in a vibrant social hub, while maintaining the library services available. The council has further built up a network of local businesses, reaching out across the Parish to successfully source donations and sponsorship for the community project, from monetary donations to workman hours to free equipment. The council has quickly formed key partnerships with local enterprise. More funding is being secured through an innovative crowd-funding campaign, through the use of online digital platforms to reach out beyond the parish boundaries. The council’s collaborative approach has ensured the project has become a community-led venture. In collaboration with Friends of Upper Stratton Library, new volunteers have been sourced, with an extraordinary response from the community. Also in collaboration with the local history group, there are plans for a heritage event in November, showcasing archives and involving the community to celebrate the history of the parish.

Community engagement has been a huge focus of the project, with constant outreach, and even a competition to rename the library. The Community Hub will become a place not only for residents, but local groups, charities and business owners.

The council is not only committed to creating a new community space for their residents, but, through the use of digital platforms and community relationships, has displayed an innovative and partnership-led approach to secure a valuable asset for the future.

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