Inside the Chapel

Last Wednesday (25th January 2017) we were given access to the inside of the boarded up chapel.  Obviously we took the opportunity to take some photos which have been placed on the “Cemetery” page which you can reach through the main menu or just click on the following link:  In The Chapel

Publicity

All this community pressure has brought interest in the Cemetery out into the open.  There was an excellent spread in the Torquay Herald Express of 23rd January.  You can see this online through our publicity page.  Just click HERE   and select the item.

There has also been a front page and inner page spread in the Teignmouth Post of 27th January which is reasonably balanced although it does lead with the proposal from the company we managed to unearth as a result of our media activity.  There is also a little journalistic licence to create a good story by portraying us as “competing groups”, whereas what we are trying to ensure is that there is complete transparency and community consultation about the restoration of the buildings with broad multi-purpose community use in mind.  There isn’t an on-line link to the story but, for those who have not been able to see a copy of the paper, I have scanned in the article by reporter John Ware below.

Teignmouth Post 27th Jan 2017, reporter John Ware

Teignmouth Post 27th Jan 2017, reporter John Ware

tp170127-p2-3

Community Action Update 26th January

Photoshoot

Community in Action

Community in Action

Thanks to everyone who turned up at the Community Photoshoot on Sunday.  It was an impressive turnout and confirms the level of community support there is for the cemetery and buildings.  Tony Wilson took a few photos and I am posting one of the group shots here.  I will add the others, which are shots of the buildings to another page when I have a spare moment.

Walking Tour

The idea of having a “history trail” around the cemetery has been mooted.  The Walk This Way walking group went up to the Cemetery yesterday to have a short history walk around some of the graves which have already been cleared.    There are some photos of that published on the Walk This Way Facebook site:  walkthiswayteignmouth

Press Release

I have sent a press release to both the Teignmouth Post and Torquay Herald Express about the photoshoot.  It will be interesting to see if they are published (an earlier release to Teignmouth Post was not published last week).  Here is what the release says:

“Local residents met on Sunday at the Teignmouth Old Cemetery Chapel to demonstrate their support for a community group comprising local people and charitable organisations, working together to submit an Expression of Interest to Teignbridge.  Their aim is to gain a long lease on the buildings and bring them back under the auspices of the local community.

A number of people have volunteered much time over the last couple of years to clear and plant around some of the sadly neglected historical graves.  Now they are setting up a ‘Friends of Teignmouth Cemetery’ to enable this work to continue and to develop several ideas for sympathetic and yet sustainable use of both the cemetery and its buildings.

People feel that this is the correct and democratic vehicle through which to submit a proposal and hope that Teignbridge will assist them in taking it out to wider public consultation so that a single project for multiple community use of that area can be established to the benefit of all parts of the community.

If you would like more information or an application form to join the ‘Friends of Teignmouth Cemetery’ email: gravetales@gmail.com

International Support

Finally, Teignmouth Cemetery is going global.  This is a comment I have received from Sharon Williams who lives in Vancouver:

Although I live in Canada, I wish you luck in your fight to keep the cemetery building as a community use.  I visited my great grandparents’ grave every month with my Gran back in the 50’s/60’s – to tend and leave fresh flowers – and have vivid memories of the peacefulness of the cemetery. Regards. Sharon Williams, Vancouver. British Columbia.

Community Action Update 21st January

PHOTOSHOOT

Firstly remember the photoshoot tomorrow Sunday 22nd January outside the chapel in Teignmouth Old Cemetery (Exeter Road) at 12 noon.  Please let friends know – I have attached a poster which you can circulate to friends.  The more people we can get the better so we can demonstrate the strength of community feeling about retaining the buildings in the cemetery for community use.

SECRET CHARITY

I said in my last update that I would be trying to track down the “secret charity” that was proposing to do something.  I’m not sure why it was so hush-hush but I have now confirmed that it is Teignmouth Eastcliff Company Limited.  This is a small company which manages the building in Eastcliff Carpark used as a music centre (“The Cave”).  The pressure we have been able to put on through this community action has led Teignbridge to ask this company to contact me.  That company will also be issuing a press release next week.

The Teignmouth Eastcliff Company Limited has three directors:  Paul Harrion, Roger Treweek and another company “Teignmouth First”.  In 2015 it had total funds of £4682.

Teignmouth First has three directors:  Terence Falcao (the mayor), Paul Johnson, and Tracy Scranage (Town development manager).  It was served a notice of strike-off from Companies House in August 2016, which was then discontinued.  In September 2015 it had no funds.  I had already written to Terence Falcao three times this week but received no acknowledgement from him about this company or its involvement in the dealings with Teignbridge.

I met with one of the directors, Tracy Scranage, of Teignmouth First yesterday.  We agreed that I could share the following information.  Their basic proposition is to move the music centre “The Cave” to the chapel buildings in Teignmouth Old Cemetery and create a broader centre for performing arts.  This seems a laudable community use but, because they have done this in isolation, they have ignored other potential community applications for the buildings.  I explained some of the proposals which you have made which essentially mean having a more general purpose “hall” available for such things as exhibitions, wedding services, humanist ceremonies, small-scale concerts etc.  I said that it would make much more sense if we could show a united community front to Teignbridge by creating such a general-purpose facility.  Tracy said that she would take our ideas back to her board and see if they would agree to meet with us.

I NEED HELP

So, some progress.  However, there is a lot of work involved here which I can’t do on my own so I’m looking for help for 3 things:

  1. Setting up Friends of Teignmouth Cemetery
  2. Putting together by Feb 6th the Expression of Interest for community use of the buildings
  3. Meeting with the Eastcliff Company Board – it would be wrong for me to meet them on my own.

If I can’t get this help then this community action will stop now.  So if any of you are able to give an input over the next 3-4 weeks please let me know as soon as possible and I will set up a meeting to agree how we take all of this forward.

Community Action Update 20th January

Firstly thankyou so much to everyone so far who has emailed their message of support.  That will be very helpful.  A number of you have also given some suggestions and offers of help which we would like to take up at some point.

There have been so many replies that it is impossible to reply to everyone individually at this stage but I have put you all onto a mailing list and will use that to keep you informed of progress.  If at any time you want to come off that list please email me and I will remove your contact details.

We are in the process of setting up a more formal “Friends of Teignmouth Cemetery” so that we can put in an Expression of Interest to Teignbridge as a community group.  I will post on here details of how you can join if you want (I know some of you may have already done that through another route).

We have now had four days of community action and a lot has happened in that time which shows that by putting pressure on our politicians and councils through social media like Facebook we can get things moving.

To bring you up-to-date:

I have been writing every day to all the Teignmouth town councillors and have had some positive response.  Firstly, thanks to Alison Eden for having encouraged Teignbridge to extend the deadline.  Thanks also to Paul Burgess for proposing a working party to take this matter forward.  My concern would be that, even with the two week extension to the submission deadline, that working party would not be able to meet and act in time to enable a submission to be made.  Special thanks to Jacqui Orme who has been fighting a sort of rearguard action for the last 2 years but has often been blocked.

I have spoken at length with Jeremy Christophers, the Leader of Teignbridge Council, who has allowed me to quote him and has confirmed that Teignbridge have no intentions to undertake commercial or residential development of the Old Cemetery site.  That is very reassuring and will definitely allay the fears of many people such as yourselves and others who have raised the issue with me.

However, the buildings themselves may be a different matter.  The Planning proposal for conversion of the buildings to residential use has not been withdrawn and so is still hanging over us like the sword of Damocles. Therefore we will need to put together a strong, coherent plan for renovation of the building and its subsequent use for community purposes.

I am also trying to track down the secret charity which has been quoted but not revealed by Councillor David Cox on Facebook to see if we can get together to work on a joint bid.  I don’t know why there is secrecy.  Contacts at TAAG have suggested that it might be the “Cave”, or Eastcliff Community Company.  However, that would mean that the town council already knows about this because of their representation on the Board but David Cox has said that he has no connection.  So I am no further forward but will pursue it. If anyone can shed more light on that please let me know.  It is in everybody’s interest that community groups come together to present a common united front for the renovation and use of the buildings.

Once again thanks for all the support and don’t forget the photoshoot at the Chapel on Sunday at 12 noon.

URGENT Action required

SAVE OUR CEMETERY

Two years ago Teignbridge announced a proposal to convert the Chapel and other attached buildings in Teignmouth Old Cemetery, Exeter Road to residential accommodation.

There was a huge public outcry and many people wrote to Teignbridge to object to the proposal.

All went quiet and the proposal was never submitted to the Planning Committee.

In the mean time a Community “Right to Buy” proposal was submitted to Teignbridge to enable some protection against any future commercial development of the Chapel.  That was rejected by Teignbridge on the grounds that the Chapel was not in community use.  Catch 22.  Of course it wasn’t in community use because Teignbridge had allowed the buildings to fall into neglect and had boarded them up.

On Friday 13th January Teignbridge issued a new announcement (out of the blue) in the local paper (buried on p64) asking for Expressions of Interest for the renovation of the Chapel etc for community use.  They have given only 8 working days to reply.

On the face of it this might suggest that Teignbridge have had a change of heart.  But cynically it could be the reverse …. By burying it on p64 and only allowing 8 days to reply they could be hoping that no expressions of interest come forward.  They could then say that they have had no expression of community interest and would then legitimately pursue commercial development.

Such a development could in turn lead (legally) to the conversion of the Old Cemetery land into land for building, destroying a significant part of Teignmouth’s history and heritage going back over 150 years.

We need to marshall a lot of community support over the next couple of weeks if we want to protect the cemetery.  If you agree to trying to keep the Cemetery and buildings in community use please send an email to that effect to: gravetales@gmail.com.

If you are able to give any direct help in putting together an Expression of Interest, organising publicity and drumming up support please include that in your email as well.

We already planning a few things and will let everyone know as soon as we have definite details.