Dudley, Eunice and Franklin certainly blew away the cobwebs last weekend. Trees came down across town including in Collett Park but thanks to our efficient contractors – both our Park Rangers and at County Highways – the clean-up was done within hours. A longer-term structural tree damage review will take place but I’d like to thank everyone for going above and beyond the call of duty to enable us to get off relatively lightly. Most outstanding jobs for residents are now to fix the fence and relocate the trampoline!

The snowdrop festival rose to the challenge of going ahead under the extreme weather conditions and bar a few minor changes to the programme delivered another amazing series of events across the town, culminating in the unveiling of a new obelisk at the Cemetery on Waterloo Road to commemorate James Allen, the ‘snowdrop King’. Thanks to everyone involved in the organisation; you certainly deserve some good weather next February!

This week I’m pleased to announce two new starters in our office team. Firstly, welcome to Gale Pettifer (I’m sure Gale’s name is entirely coincidental to our recent weather activity – and yes it is spelt that way!) who is covering our Project Officer’s maternity leave. Gale is hugely experienced in delivering local government projects and has already fitted into the team well. We also have a new Town Clerk start with us. Claire Commons joins us from Shaftesbury Town Council where she has worked for over a decade. Claire certainly has a lot in her in-box; we are continuing to work through our Town Plan which means relaunching another Summer Series arts programme, a newly reinvigorated Collett Park Day, reviewing our investment plans for Collett Park, renewing all our boundary signage, replacing our wayfaring signage, recruiting for the role of our Marketing Manager, fulfilling our fundraising strategy and loads of other projects besides. On top of this, with the looming changes happening to local government in Somerset (this time next year Mendip and Somerset County Council will only have a month left to exist and a new authority will take their place), her job will be like upgrading the engine on a car whilst still travelling on a motorway! The good news is, Claire brings with her a wealth of experience and our existing officer team have been diligently delivering on our plan over the past few months making sure the engine has kept purring. Thanks team!

Finally, next Thursday (3 March) sees the Town Council host an arts forum and invites everyone from the creative arts – whatever form that might be – to come and learn what is going on in the town and also bring new ideas to the table. Held in the Baptist Church between 7pm-8.30pm, it will be an informal affair designed to allow plenty of networking as well as idea sharing. Look out for more information on our Facebook page.

Until next time,

Matt Harrison, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council