It is with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Ken Smith, who was the Chairman of Shepton Mallet Twinning Association. My parents were members of the association for many years, and they told me of Ken’s humour and that he was a truly good person.
Ken sought to build friendships and understanding with our European friends, especially in an age of increasing isolationism, Ken had been instrumental in building links between St Paul’s School and children from Shepton’s twin town, Oissel sur Seine in Normandy. Shepton will be a poorer place without Ken’s enthusiasm, wit and humanity. Our thoughts are with his family and his partner, June.
There is hopeful news from the County Council this week. Chair of the Friends of Shepton Mallet Library, Steve Barlow, along with Lesley Rowan, Ian Karpinski and Jon Hardy, recently spoke at the Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny Committee in Taunton. They were there to press the case for keeping our library in the town centre.
County officials have now agreed to spend 6 months working with community partners in Shepton to develop an alternative town centre location for the library. If we can convince them that the proposals prepared by the Town Council and the Friends of the Library are viable, then we stand a chance of keeping this vital facility in the heart of our community. We still have show the robustness of our business case and that our plans will be for the long term.
The town council have listened to the views of hundreds of local people. They overwhelmingly tell us they wish the library to stay in a central location and be managed by professional staff. We have agreed to provide additional financial support to make this possible. Our proposal will offer longer opening hours and we plan to invest in improved moveable shelving to create a multi-use community hub for meetings and events. This may also be an opportunity to bring the town council right into the heart of the town.
At the beginning of my chairmanship I said that I wish to create greater involvement from the community in council matters. To that end, council meetings are now more open and allow discussion between councillors and residents. We now need to produce a new community plan that is informed by professional advice and has the widest possible community support.

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council