Being a town councillor is nothing if not being a communicator. Since our world was abruptly turned upside down a year ago, the Town Council has had to change the way we communicate, both internally and externally. Internally, we now conduct all our meetings on Zoom and any meeting in which we take decisions are still open to the public to attend. They are simply online versions of meetings we would have continued to hold in the meeting rooms at Shape Mendip had normal pre-pandemic life continued! With regards telling the community what we do, we are constantly looking at new and different ways to engage with the community. One initiative we launched last week was to record all our meetings and post them onto YouTube. Oscar winners we might not be, but if you want to see how we conduct our meetings, they’ll now just be a click away. Simply go onto YouTube and search for Shepton Mallet Town Council.

Strangely (given the context of the government’s cautious roadmap out of lockdown), the government has not extended the legislation allowing local government to continue their meetings online. As a council, we are still working out the logistics of how we will hold physical meetings whilst adhering to social distancing principles. We are due to start meeting physically again from May 7th. Unless a U-turn is made and we remain meeting on Zoom, we intend our meetings to not only be physical but recorded and eventually livestreamed too. We have some logistics to work out, but watch this space!

Regarding our mission to constantly engage with our community, on 27th April, we plan to hold an online ‘Annual Parish Meeting’. This has traditionally been hosted by the Town Council but is open to anyone in the community to tell others how they contribute to town life. Again, watch this space and we will communicate how this format will work. In the future, this should be a vibrant celebration of the town’s achievements; a social and fun event that recognises just what our community can do. I hope that the gradual lockdown easing will enable us to host such events physically in the future.

Enjoy the Easter weekend.

Until next time.
Matt Harrison, Chairperson