Last week saw many students return to school after, for some, many months away. This time always brings mixed emotions, both for those attending school and their loved ones. There’s often a certain degree of anxiety around going back to school and this year will bring a unique set of challenges. To everyone returning to school, including teachers, we wish you the very best for this academic year. Schools are also places where great things can happen: places of learning, places of discovery, places of friendship, places of personal growth and places of fun. Thank you to everyone who works so hard to make school a positive experience for our young people.

This week the town clerk and project officer met with the tourism officer from Bradford on Avon town council. The focus of the meeting was understanding how a small market town can promote itself. While there are some important differences between BOA and Shepton Mallet, there are some interesting similarities and lessons to be shared. It was agreed at a committee meeting in July that there was a need for Shepton Mallet town council to develop its own tourism strategy. In other words, an understanding of what are our town’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of attracting visitors – from near and far – and what can be done to improve our current position. Our town’s heritage and history are clearly assets we should be proud of and we will be looking at new ways to showcase these. Anyone who lives in Shepton knows that we are much closer to the Glastonbury Festival site than the town of Glastonbury itself. And within our community are some incredible artists, theatre companies and performers of all kinds whose talents we are fortunate to have on our doorstep. And of course, Shepton is home to remarkable food and drinks producers which is a clear advantage when agritourism is growing in popularity. However, this is a new area of activity for the town council and one which is not currently resourced. Therefore, a review will need to be carried out to assess the council’s long-term interest in tourism in due course.

Finally, last week a group of town council officers and councillors participated in ‘Community Connector’ training organised by Health Connections Mendip. This organisation works alongside GPs to enable those who would benefit from it to access services such as carer support groups, befriending services, community transport services, leg clubs and much more. This is sometime referred to as ‘social prescribing’ and is something which we are fortunate enough to have access to here in Shepton Mallet. The Community Connector training is open to anyone and everyone, and equips participants with the skills to signpost friends, neighbours and strangers to the many services which exist in our community. For more information or to sign up, please visit the Health Connections Mendip website.

Until next week!

Shepton Mallet Town Council