Speaking at the tenth anniversary celebration for the Evesham Market Town Partnership MP Peter Luff urged local business and organisations to support the 750th anniversary of the death of Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham on August 4th 1265 and the town in general to celebrate and exploit its past as one key to its future. Earl Simon was a charismatic and complex figure. A man of contradictions, he was forthright and enigmatic, chivalrous, yet dictatorial, an able military strategist who also cultivated the friendship and guidance of some of Western Europe’s foremost religious leaders. His significance was so great that the 700th anniversary of his death was celebrated by the Speaker of the House of Commons and of the Archbishop of Canterbury visiting Evesham to dedicate a new, simple and dignified, memorial to him in Abbey Park, on the site of the high altar of the former Evesham Abbey at the spot where Earl Simon’s remains were originally interred after the battle. By his death at Evesham Simon de Montfort brought Evesham to the centre of our national history and that is why I am organising a programme of events to celebrate the 750th anniversary of his death. The events that are being set up each have their stakeholders who are responsible, among other things, for obtaining the necessary consents and finance. A year of festivities is designed to run alongside Evesham, drawing in visitors and boosting the town centre. We have provided directors for the limited company set up to organise and publicise events and to advise local businesses on how to capitalise on the boost these events will give to the local economy.
Earlier this year the Evesham Town Plan working group published its detailed vision for Evesham. We have created a vision for the Evesham of the future, reflecting the needs and aspirations of residents and users of the town and devised an action plan to help us to get there.
Our objectives were to give as many people as possible an opportunity to help to shape a thriving future for Evesham:
- Establish a broad consensus on what needs to be achieved.
- Produce an exciting shared vision for the next five, 10 and 20 years.
- Produce and agree a clear, ambitious and achievable plan.
- Propose a framework for implementation and evolution.
We modified a standard business transformation methodology to provide an easy to follow approach. We called it “5D”:
- Definition. Here we defined the objectives and scope of the project. We established project roles and governance and identified the key stakeholders.
- Discovery. We engaged the stakeholders to clarify expectations and identify issues, identify and prioritise the key issues and opportunities, finalise the scope of the project and sign off the project charter. We will also developed communications and survey tools.
- Diagnosis. Researched community issues and opportunities in and around Evesham, identified and examined good practice elsewhere.
- Design. Here we considered our options, defined the key elements of the Town Plan and validated them with our key stakeholders.
- Delivery. Here is where it all came together. We produced a delivery plan, identified obstacles and barriers, created a pilot plan (refining it in consultation with our stakeholders) launched the Town Plan and reviewed progress with our key stakeholders.
We hear a lot that people do not come into Evesham for their shopping because “there are no shops”. There are a few empty shops in town so we presented a report to the Market Town Partnership analysing business premise occupancy as a preliminary to going for some funding. In reality there are 308 shops in the town centre and 388 if the town edge shopping areas are included. However, the mix of shops in town is quirky. There is some truth in the claim that you cannot go out for a day’s shopping in Evesham (with Worcester, Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon, Pershore and Tewkesbury all with 16 miles there are plenty of alternatives) but if you want to have your nails done and pick up a tattoo while buying a cellphone, browsing the charity shops, munching a pasty and get an instant tan then Evesham is the place for you!
A couple of years ago we remodelled Evesham’s High Street to remove most of the clutter, to open sight-lines to the main attractions, build slabs engraved with episodes from Evesham’s history into the pavement and generally make the High Street more tourist-friendly. We got involved to provide project management and designed the slabs and heritage features of the development.
We do pro bono work locally, partly to keep our skills up to date and partly because we like to give something back to our local community. Our consultants are trustees of two charities, serve on the management committee of our local heritage centre and get involved with using Evesham’s heritage to promote the town and develop its selling proposition. Most of what we do is for Evesham Town Council, Wychavon District Council, Worcestershire County Council, The Market Town Partnership and the Vale of Evesham Commerce and Tourism Association and other parts of the voluntary sector, using our business transformation, enterprise growth, consultancy and project management skills.