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Feedback from the Best Village judges

In 2009 Fishbourne was put through to the National Best Village competition. Although we pipped for the title, these are the comments we received from the judges:

Category 1. Community – a better place to live

  • To provide community facilities, the Fishbourne Playing Fields Association (FPFA) was formed.  They then had the opportunity to purchase land from a local resident and, subsequently, bought 17 acres a number of years ago.  This land has been fully utilised for recreational facilities, including the purchase of a 2nd hand building for community use.  The centre is well-used but now needs modernising.  After some major campaigning and fund-raising, the village has just been awarded £250k from The Big Lottery Fund to update and extend it into a fully fledged community centre– a tremendous achievement and one that will bring people together in its implementation.
  • The local church is also fund-raising for a much-needed new meeting place.
  • Fishbourne Palace also provides local facilities to the village and is forming new relationships with the local school, giving free entry to local residents and generally developing partnerships.  It is a centre for research excellence.
  • The village has an excellent club for the over 60s – FiRST – with regular meetings and outings.  Going to the other end of the spectrum, work is underway to provide better facilities for the youngsters with the setting up of a youth forum to identify what they want.  CAMEO is another group where everyone is welcome.

Category 2. Business – a better place to work

  • With its high proportion of 65+ people, the village is more residential than business orientated.  In addition, being so close to Chichester, Fishbourne has lost all but one of its local shops. This situation was exacerbated by a massive Tesco Extra store being built on its boundary.
  • Despite these drawbacks there are 200 full and part-time posts available within the village which include farm work, a new dental practice, nursing homes, the Southern Water Treatment Works and, of course, the Roman Palace.  The schools, FPFA and local pubs also offer local employment.
  • Of particular note is the strong volunteer contribution to community business in Fishbourne.

Category 3. Sustainability – a better future

  • Fishbourne has set up the excellent 'Greening Fishbourne' campaign to help residents to reduce their energy consumption.  Households have been given pledge cards and these are displayed if they take up the challenges.  To date they are aware of, at least, a 10% response and are hopeful for much more when they collect them shortly.  Overall this will lead to a substantial reduction in the amount of energy used in the village.
  • Both the school and the church are encouraging environmental awareness.
  • An innovative scheme, following the example of Chichester Harbour Conservancy, is the grazing of beef cattle on the church meadows.  The meat from these animals is now being sold to local people, giving it low food mileage.
  • Being in a prime area, with a commute to London possible, land is in demand for housing.  A recent application for 200 houses was rejected by the villagers who felt the proposal was unsustainable.  Through an action group, they set about collecting evidence to prove this and, with the help of their local authority, succeeded in getting the application rejected.  They accept organic growth but not something that would swamp the village.  The village is now planning a Village Appraisal which will lead to the second Parish Plan later this year.

Category 4. Communications - being in contact

  • The Parish Council works hard in including all parts of the village, including the new estates and most of the clubs, in the various task and project teams.  They have built a communications network that includes the local authority and the police.
  • Village Voice, a quarterly magazine, providing clear information and updates in an excellent format, is delivered free to every household. It has contributions from both the villagers and the local council.  It also has articles showing what services are available to help people in need of care and support.  Now and then great colour supplements, full of buzzy information and photos, are slotted in for special events and achievements.  People are asked to comment and, from a recent survey, the village now has 50-60 new ideas on what to do next.
  • The first Parish Plan is well designed, easy to read and includes some lovely artwork from the youngsters of the village, cleverly making it a keepsake. 
  • The village has good communications with the local newspaper
  • Not satisfied with their standard County Council website, they are proposing a new one following training offered by the District Council.  If its content is as good as Village Voice, it should be another worthwhile communication tool.