Jeff's community centre vision for village eyesore
SOFTWARE engineer Jeff Mowatt is hoping a pioneering approach to business could turn a derelict shop in Parkend into a thriving community centre.
The building on Folly Road has been empty for more than 30 years and has become a major eyesore.
ENTERPRISING: Jeff Mowatt outside the derelict shop in Parkend. Photo Martin Perry
Jeff has helped set up a number of successful co-operative village ventures in eastern Europe and he says a similar scheme in Parkend could revitalise the flagging building.
Jeff's company P-CED (People-Centred Economic Development) is committed to combining business with philanthropy. Under his model, villages get investment from businesses or grants and turn it into a profit-making scheme run by the community. A percentage of the cash is then put back into the village while the investor also gets a return.
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He said: "These days everyone is competing for the same funding. Instead of chasing the same grants, we should look at things differently and use business to stimulate social enterprise.
"What we have done in Ukraine and other places is secure investment for social enterprises that are profit-making and feed that money back into the community."
Jeff recently applied to the BBC's Village SOS campaign to get funding to start the ball rolling but is yet to hear back. If he were to be successful, his plan would have several parts. The first step would be to set up a high speed wireless broadband network in the village.
This would help fund the other schemes involving the old shop. Jeff said he wants a compulsory purchase order on the building which could then be turned into a community-run cafe and skills centre.
He said: "The broadband would be the first step and then it is a question of seeing where things can go from there. What we need to do is get people talking and try to get some support together."
Jeff, who lives in Parkend, has worked on a number of similar projects with American Terry Hallam who is based in eastern Europe. For more information contact Jeff on 563653 or visit www.p-ced.com