In the last week three councillors have resigned from Shepton Mallet Town Council. Those three councillors also held positions of responsibility within the council as Chair, Vice Chair and Chair of the Human Resources Committee. We thank Edric Hobbs, Wayne Frapple and Beccy Manley for their contribution to and support for the council over the last 18 months.

This has come as a surprise to councillors and staff, but it gives us an opportunity to keep moving forward with new people to serve the community. So whilst it creates a pause in our work plans, it is not the end.

Therefore, there will be an extraordinary meeting to seek nominations for the vacant role of Chair and Vice Chair. In order to comply with legalities, the Clerk will call that meeting to be held on Zoom on 10th November at 7pm. The remaining meetings for the year will be paused and rescheduled by 2 weeks to allow the new leadership (Chair and Vice) to work with the Clerk to discuss how the council can move forward.

At the same time the Clerk will inform the Elections Officer at Mendip District Council to announce the three vacancies. Members of the public might be mindful to call for an election to fill these vacancies. If that is the wish of the community please be aware that no public election or poll can be conducted until after May 2021 (current coronavirus regulations), so those three vacancies would remain empty until at least that date. The alternative method is that the council, after a period of 2 weeks, calls for volunteers to come forward to fill the “Casual Vacancies” and those seats can be filled at a council meeting, most likely to be held in January 2021.

I think it is helpful to remind the public that councillors, whilst serving on a corporate body, are also volunteers, workers or retirees and family people. They bring a wealth of skills and experience and diverse thought to the council, and to manage 16 personalities and the commitments of being a Chair is not without its issues. The Council has committed to delivering some exciting projects in the coming months, off the back of the publication of the Town Plan, the successful Innovator Awards and the Shepton Bird Trail art project, and plans are afoot to regenerate the town, with collaborative work with many community groups. Please bear with us while we regroup and come back stronger.

Charlotte Starkie
Town Clerk