Sunday, 28 October 2018

Chairmans Column - 25th October 2018

Town and Parish Councils throughout Britain face the challenge of taking a much more proactive rôle in running local services.  In Shepton, we are no different.  As responsibilities for library provision, support for the Citizens Advice service, and even road surfacing, are curtailed or even cut entirely by higher authorities, we, as local people can either suffer in silence, or step up to the plate and do something about it.

Already Shepton Mallet Town Council is working hard to keep our library in the High Street, and has accepted that we will have to part-pay for the resurfacing of Town Street and the Market Square since the County Council has run out of money.  Services that were once seen to be essential that were provided by authorities including the Police, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the District and County Councils are being reduced or withdrawn.

In South Somerset, Martock Parish Council has hit the headlines in the national Press since they have taken up the challenge of providing services which are no longer available from other authorities.  Despite Martock having a population roughly half that of Shepton, they have successfully tackled anti-social behaviour issues by engaging a private security firm to work alongside the Police.  They have directly helped people on all matters to do with social services with free advice on benefits and jobs, and are considering options to provide housing for local people.

Our Town Council faces many challenges but continuing to make Shepton a safe and special place to live, work in and visit remains the top priority.  If we want to support the services that are on our doorstep, we will have to take on much greater responsibilities as public finances are squeezed again and again.

Last Sunday, local historian, Alan Stone, delighted many visitors to the Town Councils gazebo at the Sunday Market with his display celebrating the 700th Anniversary of our Market Charter.  Again our monthly market attracted a steady stream of browsers and bargain hunters who turned out on a cold grey day to support local traders and learn more about our town and its long history.

With the clocks going back this weekend, we have a lot to look forward to with the Carnival season nearly upon us.  As usual the Shambles and the Highwayman Clubs will do us proud with their impressive floats and their commitment to year-round fundraising to give us an evening to remember in mid-November.

Inspired by the success of the Sunday Market, this year will see the first three-day Christmas market in Shepton. Again the hugely successful Lantern Festival will take place on the Saturday before Christmas, and in the preceding weeks, towns-people will get the chance to build their own lanterns and demonstrate the amazing creativity within our community.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Chairman’s Column - 18 October 2018

This Sunday sees the return of our ever-popular monthly market.  At the event we will be celebrating the 700th anniversary of the charter given to Shepton by Edward II.  The Town Council gazebo will exhibit a range of historical materials researched by Alan Stone.  It will be your chance to gain an insight into the sweep of history that has led to the town we live in today.

Way back in 1318, Britain was in a constitutional malaise.  England was in dispute with the Scots, and had a load of trouble in Ireland and Wales.  On a more positive note, Edward and the Earl of Lancaster had managed to sign a treaty and resolve some of their differences.  I suspect Mrs May would very much like to have the same sort of breakthrough with the EU in 2018!

The Collett Park Charity met last week to discuss our recently commissioned feasibility study into the future of the park.  It’s a once in a generation opportunity to bring the park into the 21st Century.  We have now considered the results of the public consultations that were held over the summer at a series of events including Collett Festival. The vast majority of your responses were very positive.

A key aspect of this exercise was to gain your opinion on the state of the buildings next to the Park Road entrance, including the toilet facilities.  As a result, the charity has agreed to do additional work within its budget to plan a design that will make long-term improvements and increase community facilities.  It will give us the opportunity to reach out to funding bodies for their financial support to redevelop the infrastructure and make the park a haven for all age ranges and interests.

Your feedback in the summer reaffirmed the oft-requested call to make urgent improvements to the play equipment in the park.  Matt Harrison, a leading member of the FreSH group who were instrumental in raising funds for the skatepark and BMX track, now wants to help the Collett Park Charity raise money for an ambitious revamp of the play area.  FreSH has already enlisted a growing group of local people willing to assist with community fund-raising to replace and upgrade the facilities.

Often, we at the Town Council are approached by local residents wishing to donate trees to commemorate loved ones.  We have now agreed a Collett Park tree strategy that identifies the best locations for planting, and specifies the species that are compatible with the overall planting scheme.  We will continue to welcome these touching requests.

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Chairmans Report  11th October 2018

As the days get shorter and the autumn leaves blow around the town, we start anticipatingHalloween, fireworks and our wonderful Carnival.  Also at this time of year we reflect on the act of remembrance that is held on 11th November.  2018 is of course especially poignant as we commemorate 100 years since the ending of the First World War. 

All the giant red poppies that have appeared in Shepton have been installed by Nick Chambers and Edric Hobbs.  Youll find them everywhere from the impressive display at St Peters and Pauls Church, to the one on the Babycham statue on Kilver Street. They make a real visual statement that reminds us that our freedoms have been won by the courage of others.

Next May, we will be asked once again to elect our Town and District councillors.  Mendip Council will be holding an introductory session for people considering standing as District Councillors. This is an opportunity to meet a panel of district councillors and discuss their rôle and responsibilities. This event will be held at 7pm on 24th October in the Mendip Council Chamber.

Here in Shepton we will also be electing our town councillors. This will give local community-minded people a chance to standand if successful, play an important part in shaping Sheptons future. In the last 4 years many new responsibilities have had to be taken on by the Town Council as the District and County Councils have reduced and cut their services.  

The Town Council now provides the improved flower displays on the High Street and plays a full part in the monthly Sunday markets. We are leading the campaign to keep the library in the town centre and have agreed to part-fund the resurfacing of the town centre with Somerset County Council (otherwise the broken paving will remain hazardous and unsightly)

We have managed, procured and part-funded the rebuilding of the skatepark and also part-funded the newly resurfaced BMX track.  The town council had to increase its staffing to address all these new challengesand is about to appoint a Finance Officer to match the best practice of communities of our size.

Being a Councillor allows a key involvement at a crucial time where we are being asked to do so much more than in the past. I would be delighted if we get talented people willing to be active councillors bringing new skills to join the council next May.  

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council

Chairman’s Report. 4th October 2018

Last Wednesday it was a pleasure to attend an event organised by the Shepton Snowdrop Festival outlining their plans for the coming months. This Saturday (6th October) there will be a snowdrop sale in Tesco between 10am and 4pm, and on the following Saturday the organisers will be holding a planting day.  People will have the opportunity to buy and plant snowdrops at St Peter and St Paul’s Church and at Highfield House, and then can record their efforts in a memory book.  If you are interested in joining in, please contact the Snowdrop Festival at, or to find out more go to

The Journal recently reported the good news that Collett Park is the first open space in our district to be awarded the coveted Green Flag award. This is a tremendous recognition of the Council’s progression in working with its partners. We have a growing range of activities in our park. This includes the long-standing Drifters Boat Club, but now also the well attended weekly Parkrun (soon to be joined by the Junior Parkrun), other cross-country running events, music concerts, a visiting circus, the Collett Festival celebration in June, through to the Christmas Lantern Festival, and of course the popular Collett Park Café. The Collett Park Management Committee, acting for the Park Charity,  now plans to make important improvements to ensure that our park continues to be the jewel in Shepton’s crown.

We held a series of well-attended and successful public consultations this summer, where we asked people what they want for Collett Park in the future. The Park Management Committee has been considering the range of comments you have made and how best to proceed, combining the best ideas from your suggestions and the feasibility study we had on display.

It is important for the Committee to work with people who love Collett Park and want to see it flourish.  One key aspect of this involvement will be the creation of the ‘Friends of Collett Park’.  The park has a limited staff resource, so it is hoped a new voluntary group will be keen to help us devise a new planting plan for the park, but importantly help carry out the vital tree, shrub and flower border planting, as well as any other tasks the group feels competent to do. The Friends group will also have potential to fund-raise and organise events to benefit the park and park users.  The Friends will be a vital contributor and sounding board for the Committee when developing the park into the future.

I am keen to hear from those green fingered people who love our park and want to form that important Friends team.  Please contact me ( or the Collett Park Committee Chair, Garfield Kennedy (  Collett Park is a wonderful asset for our town, and together we can make it even better.