A REVOLUTIONARY new company set up to give more power to the people is still proving itself in the face of criticism, its chairman says.
One Ilfracombe, launched in April, was designed to bring together agencies in the town to better serve the community.
With a virtual budget of £82 million, the idea was for towns to have more control over the way its money was spent.
And Ilfracombe town councillor Ron Ley, who is leading the project, said a number of successful initiatives have taken place.
Tackling illegal tobacco was one of these.
“We alerted businesses to the dangers and through visits to certain establishments we recovered some illegal tobacco and one prosecution has resulted,” said Mr Ley.
“We are still proving ourselves. This is just an example of what we have done so far. We want to demonstrate there are much wider projects in mind.”
One Ilfracombe is made up of directors from Ilfracombe Town Council, North Devon Council, Devon County Council, NHS, fire service, police, North Devon Homes and Jobcentre Plus, as well as six independent voluntary members with a range of specific skills.
There is also a range of community groups involved in One Ilfracombe, and Mr Ley has responded to fears that the company is trying to replace them.
“We are not trying to do that,” he said. “They are doing fantastic work. I have no issue with people saying they are already doing certain work – we’ve known that for years.
“It’s like anything, when you are trying to change a culture you have got to do it properly. We were never going to do a quick fix or paste over the cracks.”
Mr Ley said he was pleased with the company’s progress so far.
“We went from a standing start 18 months ago to a structured organisation,” he said. “There have been governments that have not been able to change cultures in longer time spans.
“It is inevitable there are going to be those who are opposed to what we are doing.
“They prefer a certain way of working, but it is our belief, from everything that has been fed back to us, that people want change, and the other thing we have got to recognise is that with all the cuts coming public services are going to look completely different.”