Chairman’s Column – 3rd January 2019

I would like to wish everyone a Happy 2019, and hope that all who welcomed in the New Year at Shepton’s very own Ski Bar are now back safely on the piste!

The New Year reminds us of the many challenges we have as a Town Council and community. Last year, in this column, I discussed many of these pressing issues: from keeping our library in the town centre – to the resurfacing of Town Street and Market Place, from turning our plans for Collett Park into reality – to regenerating many other aspects of life in Shepton. I will be having meetings on many of these issues in the coming weeks, and will continue to keep the community informed as things progress.

Next month, the town council will have a new administrative team led by Charlotte Starkie who becomes our new Town Clerk. Charlotte joins our newly-appointed business development officer, Louise Hughes, who will manage the council’s financial planning.

Throughout these weekly columns, I hope I make it abundantly clear that I have huge aspirations for our town. Sadly, I am certain that there will be more service reduction announcements by the County Council in 2019. Consequently, we must predict how these cuts will affect us and identify how the town council might find ways to support and deliver new and existing services to maintain and improve community life.

Whether we like it or not, Shepton will continue to grow and its population increase. We expect plans for the Mid Somerset Showfield to be decided in 2019. We must positively influence the eventual outcome, to not only build dwellings for new residents, but provide a range of affordable homes for local families. As the town attracts new folk, we should reach out to include all citizens: young and old, long term residents and those new to Shepton, to encourage all to share their talents to enhance our wonderful town.

This May we will have elections for the new town council quadrennial. This is people’s chance to change the shape of the council. It’s also a time for new people with new ideas to come forward to contribute to Shepton’s future development.

I have no doubt that 2019 will be a challenging year, locally, nationally and globally, but I have no doubt that Shepton is in a great position to exploit the opportunities as they present themselves to us. I am optimistic that in the coming year, our council, working with the community, will make our town sparkle and shine, on and off the piste!

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council