Driving to work on Monday and suddenly hearing Shepton Mallet Town Council mentioned on Radio 4’s Today programme made me sit up and pay attention! We were mentioned in the context of the station celebrating people who have volunteered as part of the vaccination drive and two of our residents were interviewed about supporting the vaccination centre at Shape. 

It got me thinking that this time of year is a time for reflection and appreciation of those who have made things happen. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, being a town Councillor is very much a role of communication and coordination; a small team of Councillors and five office staff can only achieve what we do through the input of others. If you look at our achievements over the past 12 months, I’d like to thank everyone who has played a positive role in our town, either in the past year or by contributing to projects and ideas over a much longer period prior. Without input from lots of different sources, we couldn’t have achieved half of what we have done. There are far too many projects and initiatives to name all here but some of the ones I am proudest we have delivered this year include resurfacing our market place, re-painting all the metalwork in the town centre, refurbishing and reopening our library and turning into a more accessible community space, delivering a summer events series of 35 separate events, a winter events series of 47 events, supporting Shepton’s first literary festival, taking our Neighbourhood Plan to it’s screening stage, instigating a flooding residents action group and supporting the relaunch of our Chamber of Commerce. There’ll be no let-up in the New Year. Imminently we’ll be replacing all our ‘Welcome to Shepton’ signs, replacing all the town-centre signage, planting more trees in Collett Park as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and further down the line plan on developing the park infrastructure and bringing back Collett Park Day and other events. We are also supporting plans to join-up the Strawberry Line cycle path in town and re-open the Windsor Hill tunnels and expand the local walking and cycling network. And to top it all off, we’re also developing a brand new website to help signpost everything Shepton online.

As I said, most of these projects have involved input from all sorts of people so whether you have been volunteering at the vaccine centre, marshalling at the Lantern Parade, clearing up at the Lego club or helping anyone in our town out in any way, a heartfelt thank you from me and the Council.

We all face a considerable amount of uncertainty over the next few weeks but knowing we live in such a supportive and kind community should give us all hope. So Happy Christmas and – if we’re allowed!! – a Merry New Year to you and your family.

Until next time, 

Matt Harrison, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council