David Williams, Blaen Bran Community Woodland and LlyG Director, shares feedback from a recent meeting with the Chief Executive of One Voice Wales, Lyn Cadwallader, who was an interested first time attendee at the 2015 Llais y Goedwig Gathering. Like LlyG, One Voice Wales is a Wales wide umbrella body – for town and community councils up and down the country.
“There are 735 community and town councils in Wales – covering approximately 94% of the land area and 70% of the population of the country”, said Lyn, “it is the tier of government closest to the people – with approximately 8000 councillors – about 1 for every 250 people at the very local level. Collectively they give over £1 million to community groups, sports clubs, charities and other voluntary sector groups each year. They provide local level services and facilities that are outside the principal councils’ budgetary priorities.”
Lyn went on to add: “Many people are not aware of the range of powers and duties that town and community councils can exercise – over 40, linked to such as the Local Government Act 1972, the Public Health Act 1936 – and many others.
How can these councils help community woodland groups?
Well small grants may be one way, or advice and support on drainage, on open spaces, on recreation or on tourism as examples.
There is the National VOICE – as One Voice Wales engages with Wales Government and other national bodies – and runs a national conference. A regional VOICE – having development officers for North, Mid and South Wales to ensure regional needs are identified and acted upon, and a Local VOICE – with 16 Area Committees which met regularly and provide valuable networking opportunities – as well as having guest speakers in to raise awareness of current issues.
This structure provides several opportunities for community woodland groups to engage with the community and town council sector – at a local level groups are best to approach their local council directly.”
Lyn was delighted to hear that LlyG had been successful in their core funding bid – and looks forward to ensuring that there are good early connections between OVW staff and the new LlyG staff when they come into post. “Partnership and co-operation are definitely the way forward”, he stated, “and as Wales wide umbrella bodies it has been good to find out more about community woodlands – and I look forward to a continuing positive relationship.”
One Voice Wales can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org