A Peoples Plan for Penrith



‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’. Margaret Mead

Many thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement for our efforts. The result is astonishing. At 3pm on Friday 2nd November Keep Penrith Special handed over your signatures to our Petition. You will read in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald on Saturday we had the following raw numbers: (i) online signatures – 2,536, (ii)signatures from canvasing people who had no email 420, (iii) returned postcards 1,489 – (iv) totalling a raw number of 4,445. As at midday today we have had an additional 74 postcards and a further 28 on-line signatures. We are confident that 3,148 of these signatures are residents of the Eden Valley. We have collected everything onto a database in order to remove duplicate signatures and the final count to be clarified next week, should exceed over 4,000 individuals overwhelmingly from our Eden Valley.

We will keep you posted as to what happens next. That ‘next’ will involve building what we are calling the 3PE. That is the People’s Plan for Penrith and Eden. We will build it up from the ground up by proper consultation with everyone. We will do it completely professionally. We will involve EDC and anyone who wants to join, including any Councillor as individuals. BUT, and this is the BIG ‘BUT’, we will NOT give the pen to EDC and EDC Officials until after plan is published. We want to have finished writing this plan by early April 2019. That will give plenty of time for existing and any potentially new Councillors that want to stand to tell everyone if they are in favour of the 3PE BEFORE we all vote in the Elections in May. This will ensure the Masterplan is dead forever.
From all your wonderful comments, so far from them we know this:
No one wants Penrith to be a fossil. So it must grow appropriately in the right place and grow sensibly and organically. People have ideas about where such growth might take place for businesses and housing . We need to make sure these options are all on the table. We need to make sure the local plan, which has just been adopted by EDC is understood, warts an’ all. There is stuff that people ‘in the know‘ think is quite good, a lot that is good but truthfully there is some bad stuff in that plan. Let’s make sure everyone knows about both.
People think there is not enough housing being planned in housing communities for older people, so they can stay in their appropriate new maisonettes or flats for longer. These need to be a mix of public and private, owned and available for rent. This would free up lots of existing housing. These ‘communities’ should exist in Penrith, Appleby and every big village, so people can stay in their bigger communities for longer, hopefully all their lives. People think there is not enough ‘flat style’ housing being built, or converted, mainly in Penrith but also in bigger villages etc. It is likely that our younger residents aged up to 30 or 35 may prefer to live in Town and give it that energy it needs. Gardens etc and places for kids will come later, possibly when their parents move into the more sheltered accommodation that is going to be built.

We will engage the housing associations and encourage much more ambitious plans for them provision of affordable rented accommodation. So less posh houses, more affordable houses. This will involve lots of applications for funding.
People think, rightly, that not enough is made of what we have. Our wonderful history, our location in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, close to the Lake District. Of our rivers, hills, farming tradition. So that needs to be part of a plan. Let’s really use these assets.
People want a solution to the New Squares ‘debacle’. The suggestion is this. A big glass roof is put over the WHOLE of the New Squares Development. All existing businesses except Sainsbury’s are rehoused elsewhere. In the new space we build a wonderful museum ( well more than one ) and public space.
This museum is best thought of as a visitor experience. It would contain a Section about our amazing history from pre Roman, through Roman, through the Dark Ages, St Ninian and the conversion to Christianity, through Richard 111 who rebuilt Penrith Castle before he became King and was involved ( possibly in the murder of the Princes in the Tower), through the formidable and much loved Lady Anne Clifford, through the last battle on English Soil the battle of Clifton Moor at Clifton when Bonny Prince Charlie fought a rear guard action after his invasion of England in 1745 to try to regain the throne for the Stuart’s ( he slept in the George on his way south as well ), through the arrival of the railway in 1846, through our own amazing Yellow Earl who spent a fortune on wine, cars, women, shooting before 1914, who started the AA and invited the Kaiser twice shooting at Lowther Castle before the First World War.
Another section would be about the amazing ecology of our Eden. It’s rivers, the aquifer we live upon, the flood plains, the wildlife in all its forms. Deer, red squirrels, bats, badgers even, and birds galore of the sea ( which is closer than you think), of rivers and estuaries, of the sky like larks, of swallows, swifts and house martins, of wrens and nut hatches and and and…not to mention the fish of the rivers, the salmon and trout, the bugs and the Beatles, the so on …
Another section would cover our amazing agricultural past and present. Upland and lowland farming, from the rich alluvial parts of our beautiful valley, to the tough places on the higher hills. Of all the wonderful breeds of cattle and sheep and horses, some rare some not. Then of course the brilliant products, meat, Cumberland Sausage, beef, lamb, pork and venison, eggs and cheese, apples, pears, raspberries and so on. Fudge and Marmalade which we do really well here. Our own James Rebanks could help here as could so many farmers, PK&K, H&H, Graham’s, Cranston’s, the Fudge Shop, Dalmain for marmalade, and all the cheese makers of the area and the many other wonderful food producers could be showcased.
There would be space to showcase our culture, our art, our music, our theatre, our dance, our pottery, our sculpture, our painting.
Then our sports. The fell running, the Fell packs, and all the wonderful sports we participate in winter and summer…climbing, shooting even, or fishing dare I say it!
It will be an amazing, award winning museum and art space, and be great fun. We will raise the money for this place and in fact have already started to do just that. We are talking to people who have done this before like at Wakefield, the wonderful Hepworth museum.
It will be such a successful museum that you will all complain bitterly that Penrith is too busy and look back on the days when New Squares was empty and the shops in the town failing for lack of trade. When you could always get into any café or restaurant, with the lovely quiet pubs… The idea is that we bring them ( the visitors) in through the Sainsbury’s end and tip them out at the end into the Town with their wallets in hand into the Town to shop and enjoy the cafes and restaurants.
Then we plan to do our best to ensure that our schools and colleges cater for everyone brilliantly from the brightest to the most challenged child in a loving and caring environment. We will utterly reject the vision that education is just about rote learning, we will instead make sure our kids can truly ‘beat the robots’. They will all learn to work in teams, to be strong mentally and physically, to be enquiring, curious, kindly, forthright. We do this well but could be better. They will value the sciences and love the arts, drama, music. They will be the finest young sportsmen and women in our Country. We will send our young people confidently either to work here after school, or to learn more skills here, or away to University. We want to help our local schools form stronger relationships with universities. Easy to do, Ullswater CC already have a strong link with New College Oxford because we asked, we will ensure they and QUEGs have the best possible links with Universities and Colleges throughout the UK. That will be easy to do, as so many of us already have great links with our former alma maters. We will try to get the best bursaries and scholarships for our kids to help them financially. We will do this with confidence because we know our kids will be back as soon as they can, because they love this place.
We plan to ensure that as much money as we can of the public money that is spent here stays here. That means EDC will design purchasing and tendering policies that mean that local businesses can tender and win contracts to supply EDC, our Schools, care homes etc etc. We will publish the Council’s local spend and when it goes up we will celebrate and when it goes down want to know why! We will set ourselves a similar challenge. Let’s all try to buy from local suppliers where we can.
We will do our best to ‘sort the parking’, we will want the best most intelligent computerised traffic system installed to ensure Kemplay and J40 flows.
We won’t just accept what Highways England want for the dualing of the A66. We will look at the option for a southern route ( taking the A66 traffic off before Kirby Thore and following the old railway line to Clifton and onto the M6 ) and insist it is seriously considered. We think it may we’ll be cheaper than improving the existing road once the cost to the town and the area of years of roadworks factored in.
We will take a look at the provision of NHS services and care homes. We have been speaking to the brilliant James Brent Chairman of the North Devon Hospital Trust who has led a massive improvement in the provision of Health Care in North Devon. He is going to write ‘Noddy’s guide to improving health care in a rural area with an increasing elderly population’. We will pass on his tips to you. Basically what we know so far is this. You need to build a good model of the population which you can use for both housing and health care. This model shows you what is to be expected over time. He thinks the models provided by the government aren’t any good at all. He tells me they will always massively underestimate the number of nurses you need and aren’t much good at telling you which kind. So build your own and work out how much provision you will need for each kind of thing, cancer of various kinds, hips, knees, heart issues, diabetes etc etc then know as people age how the need multiplies. Then get ahead of that curve. Concentrate on growing your own nurses from local people, they stay, the temps don’t so you endlessly chase you tail. Build houses for your nurses in the community. Well that’s a starter of his distilled common sense.
We have some ideas for bringing high quality jobs to the area. We think it is daft that we only have Newton Rigg College here. Surely if you are studying ecology, conservation and biodiversity, environment and development, flood management, natural sciences, plant sciences, sustainable water management, earth and environmental science, archaeology and history, biology, geography, life sciences, animal Heath and welfare, veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and veterinary science or animal genetics it makes more sense to be here next to a place you can find what you are studying than being stuck in the middle of a big city or town. Surely, as these academics have brains, they will work that out once it is pointed out to them? Their students will have more fun too by a country mile, less drinking more hiking at the weekend, their parents will like that as well. That will bring spin off businesses, all these academic places do, led by Cambridge itself…now there’s a thought…do you think we are ‘abroad’ enough for them to have a Cambridge in Penrith offshoot? Don’t worry we are cheeky enough to ask very senior people! If they won’t Oxford might.

We will research and go and see towns like us locally, throughout the UK or even in Europe that are a bit like us but who have done something to revive their town. Buxton in Derbyshire is one, Cockermouth and Kewick can teach us a thing or two as well. Some places have great markets, some make a great fuss of their food, some their history, their geography. We will go and work out what worked and what didn’t. We will copy the best and try to avoid the pitfalls.

And we will have a decent outline plan by April because we will all work hard on it together, give our best ideas and participate in building our own plan, not EDC’s plan, our plan ‘the PPPE’ and in the process we will learn again the old skills of participation in public life from giving ideas, to telling of problems. This will lead on to people being magistrates, school governors, Councillors, parish councillors, on the boards of housing associations, clubs, charities, church and religious groups. We will think much much more of our friends and neighbours who are neighbourly and who actively participate in the life of our Eden versus than those who don’t.
By ‘we’ is meant every citizen of Eden who loves this place. We won’t let ourselves off. We will say to ourselves regularly that ‘a place is only so good as the people in it’ and we will make that time and give that effort. We are doing it in the in the end for ourselves and our families. We know that. Know we now know what happens when a community largely abdicates. We aren’t stupid people; it won’t happen again.

Whilst Eden is always going to be Eden, it can shine and really deserve the name of Eden. The aim of the PPPE is to build that Eden here in our beautiful valley.
So tell us about what you can offer us. Whether you agree with some or any of the above. Get stuck in!
Our email is mail@keeppenrithspecial

Keep Penrith Special started this campaign on the 38 Degrees Campaigns by You website. If there’s an issue close to your heart that you’d like to campaign on, you can start your campaign here.

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