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Mayor’s June Crier Article

From Your New Mayor…..

How the time has flown and Summer is almost upon us.  There have been many changes including my recent appointment as Mayor of Great Torrington.  It is often said that all good things come to an end…  well, I hope that some things will continue to be good as I take over the reins from my predecessor, Cllr Keeley Allin, who has done a fabulous job of representing the town for the past two years.

The first part of the year hasn’t been normal at all, starting with the awful news that we had to cancel Mayfair for a second time. This was absolutely the hardest decision we as a committee could have been called on to make, knowing the heartache it would bring to those youngsters who were so looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime event.  A lot of sleep was lost prior to making the call, but in the end we had absolutely no option bearing in mind the overarching responsibility we all have to each other and our children. 

As we all know, Great Torrington has been voted the “Healthiest place to live”.  During the pandemic, we did not consistently provide the country’s lowest infection statistics without effort and sacrifice.  Torridge as a District had consistently lowest infection figures nationally, and within Torridge we as a Town shone out, but we must carry on our Covid awareness and not relax our guard too quickly. This is not to say we mustn’t get back to ‘normality’ as soon as we can, but emerging from lockdown needs to be accomplished with some caution and common sense so as not to undo all the gains for which we have all paid such a high price. Our ongoing thanks to our local and regional NHS staff, and to our extraordinary volunteers who have been instrumental in making all this achievable by their tireless work.

One of my passions is raising awareness of our fragile environment. As someone with a love of scuba diving I have seen to my sadness coral bleaching and plastic rubbish in the worlds’ oceans where you’d least expect it.

Closer to home, I have been collaborating with SAS (Surfers Against Sewage) and Plastic Free North Devon both of whom have been extremely active locally with beach cleans and other similar events.  For some time now Great Torrington has been chasing Plastic Free Status. The newly opened Torrington Refill Store will go a long way to support this by raising awareness and opportunity in the town, so please support Bruce and Mike in their endeavours. The town’s Transport and Environment Working Group hasn’t been meeting through the lockdown, but watch this space as we will be looking for people interested in our planet to get more involved.

Many of you will be aware that we have changed our grass cutting policy.  This is designed to support and encourage our ever-diminishing army of pollinators, on whom we rely so heavily.

I am excited to have been involved with the Fiware4Water initiative from its inception (there are more details in this edition of the Crier, so I’ll not repeat).  Because of our unique geography amongst other things, Great Torrington was selected by Exeter University to represent the UK in an EU and UN Water awareness initiative so please do grasp this chance to participate.  

If you have concerns or ideas, please feed back to me or any of your councillors.  We’d be glad to hear your ideas. We are here FOR YOU.

Finally, I would like to confirm that my two Charities this year will be the North Devon Hospice and the Tarka Valley Railway.  I am also very pleased to invite Reverend Robert Blackhall as the Town Council’s Chaplain.

Cllr Doug Smith – Mayor of Great Torrington

07970 636199