TOTNES’ pioneering Atmos Project could be a beacon for other community-managed schemes around the country, it has been claimed.  The group’s vision to rejuvenate the derelict former Dairy Crest site in town was described as being at the cutting edge of economic innovation by many delegates at the Social Enterprise Exchange in Glasgow.

(l-r) Frances Northrop, Fiona Ward and Jay Tompt of Reconomy and the Atmos campaign at the Social Enterprise Exchange, Glasgow.

The world’s biggest social enterprise event was attended by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and speakers included Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civic Society, and Chuka Umunna, Shadow Business Secretary.  The Atmos campaign shared a stall with Transition Network’s Reconomy initiative.

Nick Temple, director of business and enterprise at Social Enterprise UK said:  ‘We’re seeing more and more assets in the community transferred over to social enterprises, sometimes from local authorities and sometimes from private companies. Atmos would be a really pioneering example of a wider trend we’re seeing nationally.’

Also at the Exchange were some projects already doing some of the things that are planned for the Totnes site.

Iain Tuckett runs Coin Street Community Builders in London, a project that began in the 1970s with many similarities to Atmos, being owned, developed and managed by the community.  He said:  ‘What’s amazing about Totnes is the sheer positive energy of the groups there.  If the groups are able to get a common vision and secure that site, then it would be very high profile, and it is bound to be a success.   People will want to go down to Totnes to say, “look, this is how you do it”.  There are other towns like Totnes, that have got great opportunities, but they need a beacon and I think Totnes could be that beacon.’

The Atmos Totnes campaign is a joint initiative of Transition Town Totnes and the Totnes Development Trust.

[From the Totnes Times: 4th April 2012].