Town that saved itself
Lifelines faced the axe... so locals stepped in to run them
THEY got the bug when the biggest business in their historic market town was threatened with closure.
Then, the doughty residents of Hawess got together, bought out the firm and, 25 5 years on, it’s a major success story.
With the undoubted help of Wallace and Gromit, the Wensleydale Creamery hasn’t looked back since the day the local management bought out the dairy.
In the intervening years, families in the quaint Yorkshire Dales market town have found that when the authorities want to cut their basic services, they roll up their sleeves and do it themselves.
First they took over the library, then they set up a bus service to replace rural services being axed, and three years ago the Post Office and mail sorting office came under their wing too. The police station in Hawes
‘If we don’t do it no-one will’
shut down almost 20 years ago but the force still has a physical presence in town – thanks to a room in the community building.
And the latest threat to the timeless existence in this idyllic location was the fear that the only petrol station for miles around could be sold to a property developer. This week the Upper Dales Community Partnership, a not-for-profit company now controlling all these services, stepped in again to secure the lease and ensure residents and tourists can fill up with fuel seven days a week.
The model of community stepping in where private enterprise has failed is being hailed as one for others to follow across rural Britain.
The community partnership employs 18 paid staff as well as 40 volunteers and has an annual turnover of around £350,000. The Little White Bus service began in May 2011 with one ‘clapped out’ vehicle and one volunteer driver – John Blackie, a county councillor. Now it has ten minibuses and one Land Rover and carries 60,000 passengers, both locals and tourists a year.
Hawes Post Office was threatened with closure in 2014 and so the community provided the service in its main library building and took charge of the sorting office. ‘If we didn’t run the sorting office people would have to drive 17 miles to Leyburn if they weren’t in when a parcel was delivered,’ said Abbie Rhodes, the community office manager. Commenting on their success, she said: ‘Everyone is a winner. Services are maintained, employment is created and people don’t suffer from losing something important. We are used to looking after ourselves in Yorkshire. If we don’t do it no one will do it.’ Hawes, which has a population of 1,500, , still has a small supermarket and a variety of mainly tourist-related d shops and businesses.
The Wensleydale Creamery, whichh has a turnover of £27million, 200 0 staff and uses the animated characters on many products, only survived thanks to the DIY approach. .
In 1992 Dairy Crest closed thee creamery and six months later four r ex-managers and a local businessman completed a buy-out.
Beacon of success: The historic market town of Hawes nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales has gone from strength to strength thanks to its community spirit
On the right road: They created their own bus service and run a thriving library Say cheese: Wallace and Gromit boosted creamery LIBRARY
FirstFi t class:l LocalsL l tookt k over theth runningi of f theth PostP tO Office when the axe loomed and have now saved the petrol station GARAGE POST OFFICE