It’s good to listen Townstal walkabout

“We’re pleased to see the sweeper out today!” The call from a front garden was to a group of councillors, council officers, people from a housing association, the Police and the TQ6 Community Partnership members. They were out on a walkabout around Townstal.

The road sweeper came out earlier that day, and it was a pure coincidence. The walkabout was organised by Charlotte Holdsworth of LiveWest and the TQ6 Community Partnership, who began setting it in action back in May and resurrecting the regular TQ6 CP walkabouts that have fallen by the wayside through Covid. Present were people from Devon Highways, South Hams District Council, LiveWest housing association, and councillors from town and district, plus some TQ6 Community Partnership representatives.


These walkabouts used to happen quite often, said Charlotte, but they petered out and there’s a big desire to make them more regular again. Not least for the visibility of the council, council services and housing associations, but also the relationships between the services , as well as because of the engagement with people who live in an area and those who work in the area. Born from those former walkabouts came ‘community skip days’ (supporting the community who don’t have transport or physical ability to take bulky goods to Totnes recycling and also reducing waste by reusing items within the community).

Part of it is finding out who has responsibility for certain areas. The arguments around which agency has the responsibility still persist: who is in charge of those trees, bushes, drains, patches of disused, overgrown land, benches? Sometimes the answers were straightforward. Sometimes, less so.


Weeding the pavements was an issue that came up. And it was something South Hams District Council took on. Following the walk around they are meeting with the street cleansing team in Dartmouth to plan some additional street cleaning and decide, with their grounds team, the best way forward to improve the weed situation in Townstal.

But it wasn’t all overgrown hedges and burnt down houses. As the team were about to set out from Dartmouth Baptist Church, a set of nursery children came in to meet Sergeant Neil Powers, of Devon and Cornwall Police. They seemed in awe, and were fascinated with his stickers and his hat. This is about the whole community, this is about engagement, understanding and being present and visible to all ages.

Having a group walking around with the Police could be a bit discombobulating. A new homeowner who was moving in saw the group and said: “I was worried about what had happened.”


Sergeant Powers explained the reason. It’s to be aware of the area, to stop problems before they start, and to close them down quickly if problems do crop us. The new householder looked more than re-assured. He looked confident in his home choice and happy with his new location as he grabbed another box of possessions to move in.

Charlotte directed the walkers to the Britannia Avenue playground. Having spoken to residents, LiveWest is looking to update the playground and make it more attractive and usable for young people. She pointed out the problems with the park, and the progress she has made so far in winning support. Getting so much experience in one place, at the actual location, added valuable insights to the project as it steers through the needs of all the residents.

As well as getting the departments/ (organisations) together, actively problem solving and setting activities in action, these walkabouts are about meeting with people and hearing from them on the street. They are about starting and continuing conversations with all those involved with the area: residents, who are alive to the issues an area faces; and those who can work together to help with those issues.


More than one person called from their property to offer insights about issues that were happening. They mentioned parking and speeding around corners, as well as weeds.

Thanks to all who gave their time and especially to local SHDC officers, Emma Foster, Vic Thomas, Tim Pollard, and Devon Highways Lisa Edmonds and Tom Savery, Sgt Neil Powers– it was good to see you all back out in the community – and to be reminded of your commitment to communities and your knowledge and expertise.

Back to the person happy about seeing the street cleaner on the roads. “It’s like we don’t exist here sometimes,” she said.

“Thank you for listening.”

Organised by Charlotte Holdsworth of LiveWest and the TQ6 Community Partnership, on the walkabout were: Susanne Hughes, C2 /TQ6 Community Partnership; Graham Campbell & Lee Morgan TQ6 Community Partnership; Sergeant Neil Powers, Devon and Cornwall Police; Emma Foster (Operations Team Leader South Hams District Council), Victor Thomas (Grounds maintenance supervisor) and Tim Pollard (Locality Officer, South Hams District Council); Lisa Edmonds (Neighbourhood Highway Officer – Devon county Council); Tom Savery (Neighbourhood Highways Apprentice – Devon county Council).
Cllr Ben Cooper, South Hams District Council; Cllr Liz Moseley, Dartmouth Town Council; Cllr Malcolm Matthews, Dartmouth Town Council; Cllr Mandy Webber, Dartmouth Town Council; Cllr Hayley Rossiter, Dartmouth Town Council;