As my two kids returned home from Whitstone school on Monday, shattered from being back at school for the first time in two and half months, it was another sign that life, just a little bit, was starting to look like getting back to normal. There are signs of green shoots poking through throughout town. From a very physical perspective, last week I talked about the imminent start of the resurfacing works for the market place. As a reminder, work starts from this Monday 15 March. Expect some short-term disruption over the coming weeks as we invest in the long-term physical upgrade of our Market Place and Town Street that will have a benefit for locals and tourists alike, just in time for the summer. All details regarding the project can be found on the Town Council website; just search online for ‘Shepton Resurfacing’.
Green shoots don’t always have to be physical; local businesses are starting to consider how they pivot their offers from the current short-term ways of working to longer term ways of attracting custom. From complete lockdown to limited click and collect offers, each is different but faces huge opportunities to consider how and when to open-up fully. Next week, the joint local district Councils of Mendip and South Somerset will be running a series of Business Support Week with free workshops under the themes ‘Recover, Restart and Grow’.
The programmes are open to everyone who is seeking to get insights, intelligence and a mix of support, ideas and connections to help grow their business. Throughout next week, there will be a variety of business support sessions with expert guest speakers from organisations such as Skill Up, Federation of Small Businesses, Department for International Trade, Enterprise Nation, Tech Nation, University of Exeter and Visit Somerset as well as facilitated sessions from Officers within the Councils’ Economic Development Teams. Although the majority of sessions are open to all sectors, they have organised a series of workshops to take place to support the retail sector in particular. All retail businesses are invited to get involved in a focus group on Wednesday 17 March 10am-12pm to develop an action plan that supports our town centre spaces, businesses and communities. The plan will go further than recovery – it will outline a route map for an ambitious future. To get involved, it’s not too late to register your interest, search online for ‘South Somerset Business Support Week’.
Another way in which your Town Council is considering how to improve our local physical infrastructure is to completely renew our town signage. From the ‘Welcome to Shepton Mallet’ signs to the (mostly dilapidated) ‘wayfaring’ signage around town, we have instigated a project to remove old, rotten and out of date signs and replace them with relevant, attractive and ‘joined-up’ signs. We would like input from local residents to consider the proposals so if you would like to be involved, please forward your details to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org
And finally, on 6 May, local elections give the opportunity for Shepton residents to vote for a further four Town Councillors to join their Town Council. If you would like to be a Councillor, the deadline for applying is 8 April. Speak to any current Town Councillor (details on our website) for details on how to go about applying.
Until next time.
Matt Harrison, Chairperson