This week the Town Council voted to renew the traditional Town Crier’s uniform. Andy Neal took on this rôle 4 years ago, and is often seen, and always heard, delivering the town’s proclamations at many of the town’s increasing number of events. Andy does a terrific job, and will now be suitably attired to proclaim all the wonders of Shepton Mallet.
At last week’s Town Council meeting we discussed the future of Collett Festival. This includes the ticketed concert, the Collett Park fête and the very popular free children’s festival on the Sunday. The good news is that this year’s festival had a net income of £1700 over expenditure. This is not counting all the financial and promotional gains by the many local charities and societies who are invited to showcase their activities for free.
However the Town Council are now reviewing the whole way the festival is managed. Many councillors expressed unhappiness with the need for security including fencing the Festival area, and were questioning having a concert in future.
The current organisers have been mindful of safety and security at all the events, and not without reason. Any gathering of a large number of members of the public has to be well managed and made as safe as possible. For example, this year at all of the events, we had lost children emergencies with often very distressed parents, but as the Festival area was contained, our security personnel were able to close the site, find and look after the children and reunite them with their parents.
I also witnessed the professional security staff intervene in a very serious act of violence. They contained the individuals involved, protected the public and then evicted the perpetrators from the Festival site, whilst also keeping the police informed throughout. These and other equally challenging instances have been consistently well managed in recent years. They are the sorts of issues that need to be considered when staging any event where thousands of people are gathered. I’m certain the council will want to hear from a cross-section of residents with their views on the future shape of this keystone event in our summer calendar.
The Town Council is launching a brand new, much improved website this week that offers a more interactive service for our community. Please go to www.sheptonmallet-tc.gov.uk to see the new design and layout. The website has been created by a local company, and includes photographs and artwork supplied by local people. I would like particularly to thank Will Dunscombe for his brilliant photographs of the town.
Our town council staff do so much more than is seen by the community. The recent data protection legislation, GDPR, is an example that is creating a substantial additional workload. Unnoticed by many residents, demands like this on staff time have to be resourced, while the delivery of some key projects that have visible benefit to the town get delayed. I find this particularly frustrating!
Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council