It was two years ago when I first approached the city council with a business plan to turn Wymering Manor into a community asset.
Last week we signed the deal and I want to say congratulations and well done to everyone involved.
The council must be thanked for its gumption and guts in allowing the transfer, and there is a long list of others to be thanked for helping to establish the new Wymering Manor Trust, including: The News; Highbury College; Francis Davies from the Diocese; Sue Stokes from Greens Leaves; the Hilsea Lido ladies – the original trailblazers for asset transfers in the city – and Coffin Mew, which provided technical support throughout the legal process.
Through the recent flurry of activity we have never lost sight of the debt the city owes the Friends of Old Wymering and the local community. It is their care and interest in the manor which has kept it and its history alive over many years.
I have often complained that Cosham, like many parts of the north of the city, has not had its fair share of investment. Happily, we do not want for community spirit; from the vibrant traders’ association in the High Street and the businesses at Lakeside to the Friends, people have spoken up for and cared for their community.
The Wymering Manor deal was achieved because of that spirit and a dogged determination not to give in.
I am pleased that the Government’s Localism Act has given communities like Cosham more clout to demand investment and the ability to shape their own community facilities. But there is still more we could do to assist local communities and charities.
For example, we are currently putting through legislation to enable gift aid to be claimed on small donations where the donor cannot be identified, such as those put in church collection plates or in till-side appeal boxes. This could mean considerable extra cash for our community groups.