The Ex MoD Village Project is funded by West Lindsey District Council, and works with the residents of the three Ex MoD villages in West Lindsey; Brookenby, Newtoft and Hemswell Cliff by providing a dedicated worker as a resource to enable them to:
- Recruit, support and develop volunteers
- Provide support in facilities management and support the communities to apply for local and national funding
- Empower individuals to take control of their communities.
Ex MoD Villages in West Lindsey
Imagine a fair sized village situated in a rural setting of a population of around 1,000 citizens. A community which has grown up over hundreds of years where local people and businesses work together to provide leadership supported by public agencies. This village will have developed over the generations with a shop, pub, and open space, a church and other amenities and facilities which form the heart of a thriving and sustainable place. Effective public policy tools including Section 106 agreements linked to development will have been used to maximise the ‘social capital’ of this place helping it to become a thriving and prosperous community.
Now imagine a similar sized community again in a remote and rural area where the public sector unintentionally, but due to its fragmented and siloed approach to decision making, has created a village with no facilities, no history, a crumbling infrastructure and none of the tools that support a thriving and prosperous place.
The housing has extraordinarily high numbers of absentee landlords, the roads and utilities are often under standard and are not ‘adopted’ by the normal agencies. There are no community facilities and the villages around them distrust them and where crime and deprivation is high.
These are the ‘ex-MOD’ villages which, on de-commissioning, are systematically broken up and sold into the private market with little or no consideration of the facilities and support such a community needs.
Section 106 requests do not apply and thus the former publicly owned facilities go to the highest bidder with no understanding of the need for community open space, a place to meet or a children’s play area. The rules that apply to these sales are set by the government for clear reasons – to maximise the monies that can be returned to the Ministry of Defence to support the future defence of the realm. There is no longer a military need for these ‘housing sites’ and thus the assets can be disposed of without a backward glance.
In the West Lindsey District there are three such ‘communities’ – Brookenby, Hemswell Cliff and Newtoft all ex-MOD sites that have been de-commissioned over the last 20 to 30 years and a fourth – RAF Scampton – which faces closure in the near future and whose housing has already been partially decommissioned.
Community Lincs, in partnership with West Lindsey District Council is committed to supporting and facilitating the local citizens build communities in these locations. And of utmost importance, we are committed to learning the lessons from the past to prevent the de-commissioning process at RAF Scampton going in the same way.
A programme of dedicated support to these communities is headed up by Anne Cater, Community Development Worker employed by Community Lincs. Anne’s work is not designed to fix all of the problems as this is not sustainable or financially possible, but a level of support to build resilience and self-help amongst the amazing local people in these villages.
The enthusiasm and dedication of the community activists is to be admired and already, in this short time, major changes have been made in the villages.
About The Villages
Hemswell Cliff have at long last got their derelict ball-park back in community ownership after many years of it being locked up whilst the young people in the village had nowhere safe to play.
Brookenby residents have worked hard to clean and decorate their community centre. They now have a community fitness and dance studio with regular well-attended classes.
Newtoft are working on a Lottery application to secure funding for a new community centre that will replace the existing pre-fabricated building and provide essential new facilities for the whole community.