After a sweltering Bank Holiday weekend with record temperatures, it’s a relief to have more normal late summer weather. Extremes in climate are only likely to continue. The successive waves of heatwaves and floods that we have experienced recently increase the need for all communities and societies to address the challenge of extreme weather.
No matter where we live on this small planet, we face an unprecedented climate emergency. The Town Council is preparing its own tree policy, and exploring ways to reduce its carbon footprint. We know we need to do much more to pass on a world fit for our children and grandchildren.
Late in summer is also the time when young people discuss how they’ve performed in recent exams. Once again our local secondary school achieved great grades. This is testimony to the hard work of Whitstone teachers and our talented children. Good exam results are vitally important to individuals allowing them to build on the foundations laid down here in Shepton. For many it will prepare them to go out into the world and achieve their hopes and dreams, whether this be in continuing education or heading for a professional career. Well done and congratulations to everyone who achieved these results and good luck for the future.
At the weekend I was contacted by this paper concerning the two allotment sites that the Town Council subsidise and manage. Recently councillors agreed to increase the nominal cost of hiring an allotment plot and we wish to apply for funding from Mendip District Council to assign Section 106 money from developers to deliver improvements to our Hitchen Lane and Whitstone Road allotment sites. The town council will continue to support and, where possible, work to improve allotment provision, but unfortunately due to staffing issues and other pressing demands on officer time, we have not yet had sufficient capacity to complete the Section 106 application for allotment improvements.
The Town Council is increasingly asked to take on many new responsibilities as the higher authorities at Mendip and Somerset County Council shed their commitments to provide services like flower displays or library provision. The pressure on our town council staff grows year on year. We are still struggling with too many demands with too few staff hours to serve all the increasing needs of the town or to be able to fully satisfy or match the expectations from individual members of the community.
We would hope allotment holders would follow the lead of many other towns and form an allotment association to help advance their facilities in partnership with the council. We would seriously consider such an arrangement for the future since it would reduce the disproportionate administrative burden on council officers.
On a more positive note, the Town Council will soon fill a full time staff vacancy for a Financial Officer, giving us more opportunities to deal with pressing issues to better serve our growing community.
Finally, I had the great pleasure in taking Herbie, our new Labrador puppy, to Collett Park for the first time. Herbie greatly enjoyed our award-winning precious green space! Of course he stayed on a lead and no deposits remained in situ! Protecting and improving our wonderful park for the future is at the top of the priorities for all of the recently elected town councillors. We want this century-old community facility to be an asset for all townspeople (and dogs) to be proud of for the next 100 years and beyond!
Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council