I went on the third day this year. The space at ExCel is
enormous and the exhibition most interesting, particularly
for anyone thinking of an energy efficient new build house
or extension or if .installing domestic PV systems or wind
Seminars and Conferences.
As well as the exhibition there are programmes of Seminars
I went to the seminar on Towns in Transition.
Speakers were from Bury St Edmunds,Totnes and Londonderry.
Totnes being the only Transition Town in the way
Bury St Edmunds Policy Planning
Manager talked about the challenges of modernising the town
in a sensitive way while adding significant housing and industrial
capacity and dealing with the A14 going through the middle
of the town. However they have a lot more usable space than
Henley, not being restricted by a river and hills.
The most interesting item I noted was that they have introduced
a special car park for low emission vehicles which only charges
£1.70 a day.
Totnes was represented by Councillor
Anthony Whitty and his wife Carole who is a Trustee of transition
At this stage of their development he said that a topic they
were giving a lot of thought to now was Is the leadership
right for the future
He said that when they started they suddenly realised that
they had no control of any of the things they wanted to influence-
all power was with the district council and above. The town
council did not even have control of the centuries old market.
About 50% of the population were born and bred in the town.
They were keen to prevent Totnes becoming a dormitory town.
They were looking into producing a neighbourhood plan as they
were starting to have battles over development with the District
Council. Also they were having difficulty in getting privately
owned derelict sites released for development for jobs. (There
are large sites next to the railway station which were formerly
a large manufacturing dairy and a cattle market.)
They had managed to retain a large number of independent shops
in the main street and had few of the normal multiples. This
and the Totnes pound had helped retain the economic stability
of the town centre. They were looking into further development
of the Totnes pound into the electronic era.
An annual Elizabethan Market, with most shopkeepers and stallholders
dressed appropriately, had been a great magnet for tourists
and additional income.
They had difficulty with deliveries to the main street shops
from the street as they had no rear entrances. Most were at
the front of mediaeval burgage plots with houses at the end
of the plot.
We probably already know about many of their Transition activities
such as Energy use discussion groups in streets which had
also led to an increased neighbourliness.
Totnes had been a centre for the unconventional for many years
although in the past had variously been labelled Hippie
Town, Twinned with Narnia and A difficult
However Totnes seems to remain a font of ideas!
The talk about Londonderry was mainly describing how they
had transformed themselves from two sectarian groups with
all powers (even local aspects) devolved to the Northern Ireland
Office in London into a fully functioning city authority and
the devolved power sharing government in Belfast. The communities
are now working together for the good of the city.
I have a copy of the event programme and list of exhibitors
and also a yearbook and directory of the Renewable Energy
Installer if anyone needs information on any equipment
or service area.