Town that saved it­self

Life­lines faced the axe... so lo­cals stepped in to run them

Daily Mail - - News - By Chris Brooke

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

BUS

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