This article is the personal view of John Gimson, one of the Directors of BCCT CIC. It was written to support the work of Bude & Beyond Community Website in keeping local people informed about current matters. Bude & Beyond thanks John very much for his input, and invites others in Bude to do likewise. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit via the submit your news button, top right on your screen.
Bude Coastal Community Team
I’ve been involved with Bude Coastal Community Team since it was set up in October 2015. Looking back, it’s been a bit of a struggle – a bunch of people who firmly believe they can “make a difference” by bringing together representatives from local authorities, businesses and community groups, with the common goal of delivering economic, social and environmental initiatives. But with little money and a shortage of willing volunteers, plus the slow pace at which bureaucratic processes can advance, it’s been heavy going.
At the beginning of 2020, there were signs that things were looking up. We’d signed a collaboration agreement with Cornwall and Bude-Stratton Councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership – and had been party to the creation of the Bude-Stratton Strategic Programme (BSSP). The BSSP is a collection of projects, both short and long term, designed to make Bude not just a good place, but a better place – to live, work and to visit. With some grant funding from Cornwall Council and some matched donations from local businesses, there were positive signs of progress. And we have a good relationship with the Town Council over matters of common interest.
It seemed the right time to stage an event. We planned an open (and free) meeting for local businesses and community groups to come together under the umbrella of the ‘Bude Business & Community Partnership’. We were aware that other towns in the UK, noticeably in the areas of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and the ‘Midlands Engine’, and four places in Cornwall, we’re well-positioned to access central government funding for infrastructure and other developments. To get a slice of this funding, Bude-Stratton needs to coordinate resources to establish an active and dynamic ‘town team’ – and this event was a key opportunity to get others involved.
Event cancelled – impact 1
Then, with little notice, coronavirus arrived – silent, invisible and deadly.
The event planned for 17 March has been postponed; but the timetable, presentations, keynote speakers, etc., are ready for when the time is right. We were very sad to have to inform The Falcon that the event was deferred (the Falcon is now closed anyway, like so many other businesses.)
Carrying on – impact 2
As far as BCCT is concerned, we aren’t shutting down, though we recognise that life will be difficult if our range of partners isn’t well placed to help move projects forward. We have many matters that we can press on with – exploring more efficient ways of working; tidying up some of our own admin; drafting and adopting policies on climate, safeguarding, privacy, etc; and how best to keep others informed about developments.
Video-conferencing – impact 3
Yesterday, BCCT held its first video Board meeting. Most of us had some experience of calls via Skype, Facetime, Hangouts, WhatsApp – but group calling was new to us.
Research showed that Microsoft offered collaborative working via Teams and Zoom is a highly-rated video service (free within limitations) but we settled for Google’s Meet app which fitted well with the email platform we already use. A date and time was agreed; a Meet session was set up; invitations to join were sent; four of us joined in and tackled an agenda of over 20 items. The outcome was far better than we could have envisaged, with good time allocation, courteous listening/watching, aided by the ‘captions’ option which works like subtitles in case the audio was flaky. There is also an option to record Meet discussions, though we didn’t use it. In essence, a highly successful and productive experience.
We have no idea how long the Covid-19 lockdown will last. No one at this stage knows what the world-wide, economic and social impact will be, let alone how Cornwall (and Bude) will be affected. And on a personal note, the BCCT Chair is currently in New Zealand; we don’t know how, or when they might get back to the UK (NZ has just gone into a 4-week lockdown). It’s a worrying time – but we plan to press on with our work.
BCCT’s slogan is Stronger together; probably more important now than we ever imagined.