New Revive & Thrive Market Town Member Chris Windridge introduction……

New Revive & Thrive Market Town Member Chris Windridge introduction……

40 years in IT covering very large systems for commercial and science type uses. Key words. Supercomputers, Large scale projects, Big Data, AI, Data Mining. Big networks,  microwave and fibre connections.

Became involved with the “Town Healthcheck “ a UK Market Towns programme in 2006, setting up a local exercise in Caterham Surrey  “ ABC – A Better Caterham”. 

This led to taking up a “temporary” role in the South East, as a co-ordinator for all towns doing similar exercises for AMT ( Action for Market Towns). The role lasted from 2008 to 2011 and during this time I focussed on the idea of a Healthcheck Mk2 that could cover towns & villages too.  It ended after government cutbacks and a similar initiative succeeded as Neighbourhood Planning.

During the same period The South East Rural Towns Partnership covered the same set of towns across 9 counties, acting as a promoter of ideas and facilitating projects too. I became a director and took on the chair role for the last year of its life. The  government withdrew funding soon after!

The key project for our Healthcheck was called “Shabby to Smart” which in terms of aspiration still summarises our aspirations as a place.

I introduced a loyalty scheme and helped introduce similar schemes in two other towns, meeting Mark Barnes when we had both travelled to Yorkshire to speak at an event about loyalty scemes.

Broadband is a pet topic and encouraging innovation.

When the Localism Act introduced Neighbourhood Planning, we created an alliance locally between 4 parishes , ABC and the towns Business Partnership. That exercise is near completion but it has led to

  • I am available to help others. Particular focus on the economic side of towns and projects, and the strategic imperative to engage local people, business and local government in change.
  • Knowledge of various data sources, funding, methodologies to help generate local plans and improvements
  • Leading a group from 2015 for a local Town Design exercise, to assist in bringing forward economic and spatial improvements, while retaining character.  Linked to a Local Authority  Masterplan exercise . 2015 to 2018

In summary

Since 2006 I have been involved in improving “Our Place”. Learning from others and passing ideas along.  The town went on to launch a Festival – now in its 9th year, bought the Town Hall for £1, launched a Loyalty Scheme, formed a BID, created a Town Design Statement and is involved in a Masterplan and a Neighbourhood Plan.

Although Caterham is not a classic Market Town it has many of the characteristics in being a mid-sized place forming an economic hub for a wider area. In our case London is a big influence too as we sit on Junct 6 of the M25.