In autumn 2011, Saxmundham Town Council approved the setting up of an independent group of volunteers charged with the responsibility for conducting a new survey of residents’ views about the town. The TC committed itself, subject to resources and feasibility, to meeting the residents’ wishes. In January 2012, at a public meeting with a big turnout in the Market Hall, a plan took shape and the Saxmundham Town Plan Working Party (STPWP) was formed.
A lengthy process of consulting, researching and designing the survey questionnaire followed, and in January 2013 copies of this questionnaire were delivered to 1,800 households in the town, together with a special questionnaire for all 10- to 16-year-olds. Residents in the neighbouring villages of Kelsale-cum-Carlton and Benhall were also invited to participate. Very few did. A total of 787 responses were received from 613 adults and 174 young people aged 10 to 16. With an estimated total town population of 3,450 in the survey age range (that is, adults plus young people aged 10 to 16), the questionnaire response rate was 23 per cent. In February the manually completed questionnaires were converted to electronic versions and added to those completed online. Then all the responses were collated and analysed.
The survey posed a lot of questions and resulted in many different answers. As we analysed them it soon became clear that a shortlist of priorities for action would have to be drawn up based on the largest number of responses. This report – Action Sax: 15 priorities – is, in effect, our “skeleton” plan of action. Subject to the plan receiving general approval from residents, the STPWP intends to reconstitute itself as “Action Sax”. Action Sax will have new terms of reference and be strengthened by an enlarged and refreshed group of helpers and advisers (please join us – see contact details below – we will most certainly need the experience and knowledge of all those community volunteers who lead the town’s various clubs and associations).
Three focus groups will be appointed to draw up approved plans of action which will convert the outline proposals in this report into realistic and achievable objectives.
Action Sax will not try to push through decisions without proper consultation nor get in the way of independent initiatives being taken or planned. Our elected representatives on the TC are to be commended for the hundreds of unpaid hours they give in trying to look after our local interests. In partnership with them and with the many voluntary groups that give their time to help specific causes or recreational interests, we must engender a “yes we can!” mentality and win the trust of the town as we try to help get things moving.
We will report annually to the town and hope that most residents will feel as time passes that – regardless of age, income or interests – the overall quality of their lives in Saxmundham is not only being sustained but also improved, and that this survey has helped the process along.
It should be made clear that this Action Plan is Stage 1 of the process, which will be updated annually.
Please read the Action Plan on the following pages and tell us what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Better still, join us!
Saxmundham Town Plan Working Party