Following the resignation of a Town Councillor this week, I am acutely aware of the public interest in allegations of bullying within the Town Council and how they appear unresolved. I can say that the Town Council is following the required procedures in response to the allegations and will respond to any recommendations made by the Monitoring Officer. The process is being convoluted with challenges that are making the process lengthy but we will resolve to reach a clear outcome.
It must be made clear that procedures have to be followed to ensure a fair and level playing field for all who choose to participate in local democracy. Ultimately, the residents of Shepton Mallet choose Councillors who then have a democratic duty to serve those who elected them. And ultimately at a subsequent election, the electorate decides once again who they choose to represent them. You choose the Council!
Following a number of resignations last Autumn (including our former Chair), I have instigated some initiatives to support Councillors. We hosted an externally facilitated workshop open to all Councillors which resulted in us stream-lining our committee meeting structure (it was felt we had too many meetings) and we started filming and posting our meetings onto YouTube. We will re-start the posting of our meetings once we are able to meet again in the Council Chamber.
My, and the majority of Councillors, personal focus is now on the future. Whether we like it or not, enormous change is coming to Shepton: the health repercussions from the pandemic, the economic challenges and opportunities post Covid, the change in people’s working patterns, change to local government, increase in housing (18% in the next 9 years) and climate change are going to shape the next few months and years. We have to look forward to embracing the challenges to get the best for Shepton. We have already started. Two weeks ago we finished re-surfacing Town Street and the Market Place, transforming our Town Centre. Last week we completed the painting of the metal work. This week we are developing the BMX track. Next week we launch our ‘Summer in Shepton’ events (details announced tomorrow). And in two weeks we re-open our newly refurbished library. These add up to the largest pieces of capital expenditure for years for the town.
This is just the start. We have lots more ambitious plans in the pipeline. We will only achieve these by working together as a Town. I am 100% committed to achieving our Town Plan and will continue to ensure future plans are the Council’s core focus.