Wednesday, 31 March 2010

A developing community?

The March meeting of Shepton 21 management committee was held this evening.

It must be about fifteen years ago the Shepton Mallet Taskforce was initiated, the embryonic community regeneration group from concerned Shepton residents, many members of Shepton 21 were members of the Taskforce, I admire those members for there continued commitment to community engagement and trying to develop a better Shepton.

I wonder how many councillors would continue if they received the same level of support these volunteers have received over the years.

Shepton 21 has made progress, with examples such as the properties that has received help from the facelift project. The groundwork has been done for the Community and Training Education Centre, with feasibility studies. Progress has been made with the Links group, feasibility studies has been completed to try and bring the railway back to Shepton, the Milestones in and around Shepton have been refurbished and the multi user path along the strawberry way has made progress.

In large part many of the priorities held within the crossroads document that was written after a major public consultation after the successful Market and Coastal Towns Initiative bid, have been taken as far as any community group can, they can only delivered by large injections of cash from public bodies.

This is the rub, community regeneration groups can do brilliant work, but there success is not in their own control, unlike a private business, there ultimate future depends on the commitment of statutory agencies.

So, the coming year will be a period when community regeneration in Shepton will be at another crossroads.

Alan Stone is doing a number of lectures/talks about Shepton, there are to be held in the Salvation Army Hall at 7.30pm on the 15 April Shepton in the 1600s the 22 April Shepton in the 1700 the 29 April and 6 May on People and Places in Shepton.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


This evening was the spring meeting of the Whitstone School governors.

Governors were told of the extra revision clubs and the tracking and performance of year 11 students, giving the young people the opportunity to make real strides in their GCSEs.

This evening we reviewed several policies;
  1. Our Finance Policy
  2. Child Safeguarding/Protection
  3. Governor allowances (Whitstone does not pay them)
  4. Staff Discipline
  5. Safer Recruiting
  6. Freedom of information
  7. Parental complaints

The excellent acting head teacher, Steve Smith gave a very impressive report on the previous terms activity

  1. The School has retained it's Investor in People award
  2. The School has been awarded FMSiS
  3. The School improvement plan has been upgraded
  4. The School has accessed money from government to give one to one private tuition for 10 hours to raise standards for 25 young people in year 7 in either maths or English.

The Schools other activities include

  1. The recent pantomime
  2. Whitstones photographers visited the Wells Rotary Club
  3. Year 7 trip to Lulworth cove
  4. The Sports relief mile
  5. Year 7 Cultural diversity day
  6. Year 10 Holocaust Memorial day
  7. Year 8 Anti Bullying day
  8. Year 8 Spooky Tales
  9. Year 9 Brunel Trip to Bristol
  10. Year 7 Trip to Chepstow and the quarries.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Morale is High

The monthly Shepton Mallet Labour Party was held this evening, with the best attendance for many years, members are in a very optimistic mood.

Labour members were informed that a by election will be held in Shepton due to the resignation of another conservative councillor, Mrs Taylor. The Labour Party will field a candidate this time.

Clearly, the budget was discussed, with many measured welcomed by the meeting, the measures to help small businesses to help with skills and innovation, the extension of capital allowances and extending the relief on capital gains tax relief for entrepreneurs. Help for the young unemployed was welcomed.

The new green investment fund should help to develop low carbon technologies.

The Continued support for the older peoples winter fuel payments was right.

With this probably the last meeting before the general election, members are looking forward to the campaign, excited by the prospect of campaigning for a fourth labour term.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Planning news

Tonight the Town Council held it's three weekly planning meeting, this an uncontroversial affair.

We recommended approval for a new dwelling in the part built garage in 21 Church Lane. We supported a side extension to 17 Downside.

The Town Council's application for the Cenotaph was presented, councillors urged Mendip for a quick resolution, so the enhancement can be concluded.

We supported a new replacement shop front for 35 High Street, very much in keeping with the style within Shepton's High Street.

We supported the rear two storey extension to 10 Bowlish, this extension cannot be seen from Pike hill, and will have no impact on anyone.

We supported the application to alter the windows in Woodlands farm, this will introduce a steel subframe inside the windows, this seems pretty uncontroversial.

We supported the demolition of the existing garage at 8 leg square and the erection of a replacement garage with roof terrace, this should improve the visual impact to the property.

Finally we supported a retrospective application for a conservatory at 1 Thorne Lane, this is a typical conservatory, and seems acceptable.

The Town Council at it's last planning meeting supported the Conservative Club application to replace and install a new shop front in Paul's Street and a new side extension allowing a new floor for snooker, I was happy to propose recommending approval, but Mendip Council through it's two Conservative district council members refused this application. I took the view we want to see a vibrant High Street and this application would support a social club.

The meeting was concluded within the hour, home to watch the Arsenal, 2-0 up, so the Londoners are happy.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Brian White

This Morning I attended a tree planting ceremony to celebrate the late clerk of the Town Council, Brian White.
Brian's wife, Sylvia and her two sons pictured in the front, planted the cherry.
Brian was a lovely man, I look back with affection to his work with the Town Council and the sensible advice that was given. It was nice to reminisce with other councillors and public that knew Brian, we all had our stories, but we all agreed that he was a decent likeable man, that gave his best, so it was fitting that so many people came to the tree planting.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Another vacancy

The Conservative Group on the Town Council suffered another blow with the third resignation/expulsion of this term.

Mrs Kay Taylor 6month none attendance ran out today, conveniently resigning tonight.

There will be a tree planting ceremony in Collett Park for the late Brian White, former clerk, on Saturday 6 March at 11.00am.

The contract for Collett Park is to be extended for a further 18 months.

The continuing problems in Westway Lane and Maxwell Road, with the new housing development, there is constant water running with pumping from 7.30a.m to 4.30pm and a 6500litre water removed from the site daily, the town clerk has written to both Mendip and County Council for enforcement, but there has been little action from those councils.

Monday, 1 March 2010


Just a brief update.

I attended a Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) management committee this evening, i'm the Town Council representative.

The CAB has seen someone from 1 in 7 households in Mendip district. Unsurprisingly the major growth in enquiries are debt problems, benefit issues and employment problems.

The Mendip CAB is the first to form a joint working agreement to prevent homelessness in the south west, this includes CAB, Shelter and Mendip Council.

The Somerset Racial Equality now are using the interview rooms in Shepton CAB.

Don't forget the Health trainer is based in the Shepton Office.

The new advice line will be in place in 2012, one telephone number for the whole country, with the exchange directing people to their local CAB office.