Thursday, 27 September 2018

Chairman’s Report  -  27th September 2018

This week the Town Council voted to renew the traditional Town Crier’s uniform.  Andy Neal took on this rôle 4 years ago, and is often seen, and always heard, delivering the town’s proclamations at many of the town’s increasing number of events. Andy does a terrific job, and will now be suitably attired to proclaim all the wonders of Shepton Mallet.

At last week’s Town Council meeting we discussed the future of Collett Festival. This includes the ticketed concert, the Collett Park fête and the very popular free children’s festival on the Sunday. The good news is that this year’s festival had a net income of £1700 over expenditure. This is not counting all the financial and promotional gains by the many local charities and societies who are invited to showcase their activities for free.

However the Town Council are now reviewing the whole way the festival is managed. Many councillors expressed unhappiness with the need for security including fencing the Festival area, and were questioning having a concert in future.

The current organisers have been mindful of safety and security at all the events, and not without reason. Any gathering of a large number of members of the public has to be well managed and made as safe as possible. For example, this year at all of the events, we had lost children emergencies with often very distressed parents, but as the Festival area was contained, our security personnel were able to close the site, find and look after the children and reunite them with their parents.

I also witnessed the professional security staff intervene in a very serious act of violence. They contained the individuals involved, protected the public and then evicted the perpetrators from the Festival site, whilst also keeping the police informed throughout. These and other equally challenging instances have been consistently well managed in recent years. They are the sorts of issues that need to be considered when staging any event where thousands of people are gathered. I’m certain the council will want to hear from a cross-section of residents with their views on the future shape of this keystone event in our summer calendar.

The Town Council is launching a brand new, much improved website this week that offers a more interactive service for our community.  Please go to to see the new design and layout. The website has been created by a local company, and includes photographs and artwork supplied by local people. I would like particularly to thank Will Dunscombe for his brilliant photographs of the town.

Our town council staff do so much more than is seen by the community. The recent data protection legislation, GDPR, is an example that is creating a substantial additional workload. Unnoticed by many residents, demands like this on staff time have to be resourced, while the delivery of some key projects that have visible benefit to the town get delayed. I find this particularly frustrating

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Chairman’s Column - 20th September 2018

These are times of change for the town council. We have reorganised the management structure in the office, and are looking for an accountancy professional to join our highly motivated and professional team to fill a financial officer position.

Shepton residents rightly expect their Town Council to meet their expectations of delivering high quality services with tight control of finance.  For this reason, the Council is looking for an enthusiastic accountancy professional who has sound financial management skills.  We need to find a person with a confident manner who can deal with complex issues, who will work alongside our Town Clerk and provide support to councillors. The position will offer the successful applicant the opportunity to manage and play a key rôle in implementing and delivering a business plan that will help to improve Shepton Mallet.

We are looking for someone for 18 hours a week over three days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  By the very nature of working for a town council, the successful candidate may be called upon to help with other varied tasks, thus offering us flexibility and making the very best use of all of our small team of officers.

Already, Shepton Mallet Town Council is lucky to have hard-working and committed employees. I am particularly keen that we employ the right person to complement them and deliver a high level of financial competence to deliver services and projects.

The future is looking increasingly bright for the Council.  Recently we appointed a new, energetic and highly professional Town Clerk.  Much more is happening in the town with the Sunday Market and many other successful events. We have a series of challenging issues to address, including the ongoing work to retain our town centre library, and the need to make improvements to the town centre and Collett Park.

There couldn’t be a better time for an outstanding accountancy-trained individual to join us. You can contact the town council on 01749-343984 to discuss the matter further or

Whilst attending the Mid-Somerset Royal Air Force Association Commemoration Service, Sister Anne Martin reminded me of the launch of the Dementia Action Alliance.  This is an initiative to understand the complex problems that dementia presents us with, and how we as a town can learn more and provide help. Anyone interested can attend a meeting in the Mendip Council Chamber on 27th September between 6pm and 9pm

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Chairman’s Column  13th September 2018

There is little doubt that these are difficult times for Somerset County Council who face rising demand and increasing costs for adult social care and children’s services.  Yet both these departments are now facing large cuts to their funding.  Despite the withdrawal of substantial amounts of financial support from central government for these core services, the County Council chose not to increase council tax year on year.  The County has now simply run out of money, leaving some of the most vulnerable people in our society potentially abandoned.

Somerset County Council also announced that it plans to drastically reduce financial support for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The CAB has become increasing important lifeline in recent times as government has cut back on access to Legal Aid. This has left the CAB as the only source of independent advice and help for many people.

The County Council now plans to remove £98,000 from the CAB budget in October, giving the organisation no time to plan for the impact of an overnight reduction of 20% in its core funding. The Town Council recognises the important job the CAB does in helping residents in often difficult and dire circumstances, and we continue to give an annual grant to this vital service.

Last week Jon Hardy and Garfield Kennedy met with County Council officials to continue talks to keep our library in the centre of Shepton. I am positive that the town council’s detailed business plan,and the strong social and economic arguments that we have spelt out, makes a compelling case to keep the library in the heart of the town.  County Councillors will determine our library’s future.  If they choose to put it into Mendip District Council’s SHAPE offices, it will betray all the work done by the persuasive and passionate Friends of Shepton Library and your Town Council.

After a week away in sunny Majorca it’s great to be back home. With our Sunday Market returning this weekend, it will be another chance to buy a lovely selection of food and gifts.  Sadly, for me, I will have to make it a fleeting visit as I have a busy day representing our town at a service in Wells for the Mid-Somerset Royal Air Force Association, and then on to Highbridge for their town council’s annual awards and civic service.

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council


Who can believe Summer has come to an end? Here in Shepton we’ve had quite a summer, with the amazing Collett Festival and the Charles Chipperfield Circus, and earlier great events including the very successful Festival of Dogs, the Mid Somerset Show and the ongoing season of Collett Café events, and of course, our expanding Sunday Markets.

 Looking ahead, the Snowdrop Festival is inviting local residents to the Cider House in Kilver Street between 5pm and 8pm on Wednesday, 26th September to have their say on the future of this now well-established annual event. Tens of thousands of snowdrops have already been planted that pop up each year to herald Spring all round town. The event celebrates the life and legacy of local man, James Allen, who bred and hybridised new snowdrop variants. It’s fantastic that we are now able to celebrate this remarkable man’s love of horticulture. We have to thank the Shepton Horticultural Society and their “growing” team of volunteers for all their tireless efforts.

Last week it was great to hear that so many of Shepton’s young people had achieved impressive GCSE grades. They have laid the foundations for their future careers, and I wish them every success. My one piece of advice to this up and coming generation is to take every opportunity on offer to achieve your dreams.

 With the end of the summer, we have another Town Council tradition: the annual allotment competition. As a gardener myself, I have every sympathy with our dedicated allotment holders. This hot, dry summer made growing anything really challenging. Despite this, our allotment gardeners made great strides in producing some amazing crops.

The Town Council has earmarked money to help residents to take part in community ‘Speed Watch’ schemes. We know that fast traffic and dangerous driving is a major concern for many people. The Council is fully committed to helping volunteers from the community who want to make our streets safer.

St Marher realised way back in 1225 that “time waits for no man”, and Shepton is no exception. The town is exhibiting a new-found confidence: whether it’s in education where our students are achieving fantastic results, or in the community where many groups are organising great events, or in the arts with the inventive Rubbish Art Project in the HSBC building, or in business with traders like “Loaf” opening on Town Street. There is real momentum in Shepton today that the Town Council will do all it can to continue to encourage in order to deliver a thriving, healthy and safe society.