Like any town Taunton has its fair share of problems. The High Street is suffering with online shoppers and we have seen the historic County Stores close their doors after 186 years. Many want our town to be like it was years ago in the ‘good olde days’. Those rose tinted glasses fit snug as we reminisce over our history. A time when people looked out for each other and the town was a vibrant place to live.
The truth is, we do still care, buildings evolve with a change in usage as they have always done. Times change. Get over it. There’s nothing we can do but look forward. What does the next incarnation of Taunton look like? We have more tools at our disposal and we can communicate faster than ever before.
We need to realise that this isn’t just a problem for Taunton, but nationwide. Community is ultimately about people, not buildings. We have Company Spaces opening in 2019, a vibrant hot-desking coffee shop space - with room for meeting, based in the heart of Taunton. We seem to have gone full circle. People meeting up, sharing ideas and positive energy. We have many community centres with arts and culture breathing life into the town.
So many media headlines are negative, pointing the finger and this makes our blood boil. Social media for some is a place to rant and we can all be guilty as we succumb to negativity around some of the issues that we as a community face. Some people like to moan and do nothing to help. It’s always someone else’s problem. We need to forget them. They talk down the town. It becomes a culture of blame. Are we really all doing our bit?
So, what do we do about it? Limits on time, money, resources and attitudes all steer progress. Those with the power should have the courage to give some of the keys back to the local people, to make things happen. It has worked in other towns across the country.
There are plenty of people in this town who are passionate about Taunton’s future. People who shape our community and put smiles on faces and memories in minds.
We need to get behind them, help them, celebrate their work and use our voice as a power for good. This town for me seems a little fragmented, with some people having their own agenda. We need to work as one, towards a common goal. Let’s support the real grafters, celebrate the local characters, the people offering something different to the online world. We need more support for independents. Those that make the ‘charm’ of a county town. Go to more local events, share your experiences. Give back.
When you stop to think about it, there is a long list of reasons why Taunton is a great place to live. Too many people focus on the problems without realising what we have on our doorstep. We are very fortunate indeed.
I’m 15 minutes from the hills, 15 minutes from town. The sea is 30 minutes away. The M5 takes you to Bristol within the hour, 30 minutes to Exeter. There is an amazing community in Taunton. Where else offers that?
Let’s work together and work around the barriers. They will go in time. What can we focus on in the meantime? Support Taunton from the inside out. We will do our bit to make it happen with what we’re doing. Use this local, independent magazine as a platform to celebrate, inspire and push positive progress.
Photography by Roger Shattock