I cannot believe I am beginning my second term as Mayor of Great Torrington; thank you all for your support over the last 12 months. It’s been incredible serving our wonderful town and I’m looking forward continuing to do so. This next year will be different, but I know as a community we will embrace the challenges and come out stronger.
I have been very proud to raise funds for the Torrington Police Amateur Boxing Club and the 1st Torrington Scout Group, and it was lovely to see you supporting these local groups through various fundraising events. I am very pleased to say that we have raised a total of £4500.00; money which will be divided equally and I know, gratefully received to by both groups and will hopefully serve to help them continue their fantastic work. (Please note this sum does not include sponsorship for my postponed sky dive. Once I have done this, these funds will be divided and sent separately to these groups).
At this point I choose two new charities to support over the next 12 months, and it hasn’t been an easy decision. Will suggested that I look back over the last year at who has made a real impact, so my first charity is the Torrington Silver Band. They were all very welcoming at the events I’ve been invited to, they are the beating heart of the town, and I look forward to supporting them in any way I can over the coming year.
My second charity is the Friends of Great Torrington Library. Being a keen reader myself, I know how vital this service is to a broad range of individuals in our community. As well as being able to access a wide range of resources, the library offers events and support for all ages. I fondly remember doing the book tracker program as a child and would love to see more people taking an interest in reading.
Again, at this point, I would usually award the Mayor’s Award to an individual or group at our Mayoral Introduction Ceremony. Naturally this event was unable to go ahead, but I would like to announce that this year’s chosen recipient is ‘The Great Torrington Knit and Natter Group’: a recently formed group meeting every Wednesday to knit/crochet and share companionship. The defining moment for me was the incredible work that went into our fantastic Poppy display for Remembrance celebrations last year. This was a wider community effort but with the group forming and coordinating the display, it became a breath-taking piece. I’ve also received comments about how warm, welcoming and friendly the group is, with some members even travelling from outside of Great Torrington for weekly meetings. Community is what our town thrives on and so I know that this community group are truly deserving of the award.
As a council, we have been trying to resume some normal proceedings by commencing virtual meetings. It’s all very different but as we all adjust it is working well. By the time you read this we will have held our first full council meeting (25th June 2020). I hope you are all continuing to stay safe, and perhaps that you have managed a socially distanced catch up with friends or relatives. Businesses are adapting to the ‘new normal’ as shops start to re-open and I know our traders appreciate your support and consideration as they adjust to this change.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need anything at all.
Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington – Cllr.email@example.com Telephone: 07783 711500
We have been greatly saddened at the deaths of two local people over the past couple of months, both whom have been connected to the Town Council at some time. Harold Martin, a former Town Councillor and also 3 times Mayor of Great Torrington in 2007, 2008 and 2013 and Gillian Saich, who volunteered at the Town Council offices from time to time.
Harold served the town in many ways with associations with various groups; however, we remember Harold as a keen Councillor who was passionate about local matters; well-respected, trusted and a man of integrity. Whilst he had not served the Council for a few years, we continued to be grateful for his input and dedication whilst he did. We are also conscious that Harold was faithful in his work with a number of organisations across the town up to his death.
Gillian volunteered in the Council offices for a number of years and was an enthusiastic and supportive individual who we know was also very involved with a number of other initiatives and organisations across the community.
Both Harold and Gillian will be sorely missed by many, many people and the community of Great Torrington is much the poorer because of these losses. We would like to wish both sets of family and friends our heartfelt condolences at this difficult time.
Cllr Miss Keeley Allin has awarded her Good Citizen Award for 2020 to “The Great Torrington Knit and Natter Group” who have recently formed and meet every Wednesday to knit/crochet and share companionship. The defining moment being the incredible work that went into the fantastic Poppy display in the Town Hall for Remembrance celebrations last year. This was a wider community effort but with the group forming and coordinating the display, it became a breath-taking piece. Cllr Allin said, “I have also received comments about how warm, welcoming and friendly the group is, with some members even travelling from outside of Great Torrington for weekly meetings. Community is what our town thrives on and so I know that this community group are truly deserving of the award”.
I don’t know what the state of the national situation will be like once this article reaches you all but I hope you are all well and continuing to stay safe.
I would usually be reflecting on our Mayfair celebrations, but this year had to be different. This did not mean that we let the event go by without joining together (albeit virtually!). So many of you decorated your houses and shops and made the town shine in this moment of darkness: groups such as the Cavaliers, The Torrington Silver Band and even our team at Great Torrington Town Council released special videos and I couldn’t be prouder of you all that we continued to celebrate our special day. This may not have been the Mayfair we are all used to, but it will certainly go down in history and be remembered for bringing us all together at a very difficult time. I was extremely pleased to hear our May Queen was crowned virtually by her family and I sincerely hope Matilda and the rest of her entourage had a lovely day – I look forward to being able to catch up with you all at some point as soon as it is safe to do so.
Our town continues to work hard in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and I again want to thank everyone who is playing their part in ensuring our community is safe and catered for. You are all showing how much ‘Great’ there is in Great Torrington!
Our members of staff at the Town Council have been continuing to work hard for us all. As well as co-ordinating the Coronavirus Task Force, they have been continuing with council business and have worked hard to ensure we can all keep in contact and deal with matters via phone and video conferences. It certainly is a very different way of doing things so I am grateful to them for being able to guide us all through it. Similarly, our two technicians have been continuing to help wherever they can in the absence of some of their usual work.
We also commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE day on the 8th of May. It was very special to see so many displays by local houses and shops and to again see that just because we have to be physically apart, it doesn’t mean we cannot show our appreciation to those who gave their lives for ours. Special thanks also to Nick Megson from Torrington Silver Band for taking the time during his daily exercise to perform the Last Post at the Cemetery at 11am.
I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the team at the Crier for continuing to put together the monthly edition for us all to enjoy and for giving us the chance to be able to say thank you to those who are continuing to help others and work during this difficult time and to keep connected.
I hope you all continue to stay safe and stay well and please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need any help.
In the past months the Town Council has agreed an Environment Policy and has also activated an Environment/Transport working group to look at various environmental issues (as well as transport) and challenges we currently face as a community, nation and world. At an Environment meeting in early March, (before the coronavirus lockdown) we considered matters in relation to our community maintenance programme and how the way we work could be reviewed, ensuring ongoing safety measures are in place, but also considering the impact we have on the biodiversity of the local area.
With regard to grass cutting, we are currently under contract to cut some of the grass verges for visibility purposes for Devon County Council and these must be cut 4 times per year between April and the end of October. Historically, we have cut these areas more frequently than this. However, to allow ongoing growth and increased insect/wildlife activity Members suggested that going forward we experiment by cutting the minimum amount of 4 times per year. We will keep a close eye on these verges as our first priority must be to ensure clear visibility for road users is maintained for safety reasons.
Devon County Council has confirmed that they do not intend to do any other grass cutting this year (apart from verges via the Town Council). For a number of years, the Town Council has in fact cut some of these areas anyway. Two of the larger plots are the strip of grassland adjacent to Greenbank on the left-hand side as you travel into Great Torrington from Barnstaple and the strip of grass in front of Woodland Vale Nursing Home. Again, Members suggested we experiment here and cut the edges only, leaving the grass in the middle or to the side to grow. We also discussed the possibility of sowing meadow seed and/or bulb planting in these areas after consulting with local experts on such matters. We are mindful that this approach will not result in such a “tidy” picture, however, we hope that the “natural” will be appreciated for what it is and will improve the habitat for nature.
Members also suggested looking into reducing the use of leaf blowers and herbicides and undertake some tasks manually, such as weeding.
The intention was to use this year as a pilot for possible change going forward and were looking to encourage feedback from the community as we went through the year.
Members also agreed the following;
Consider environmentally friendly options when buying tools and machinery.
Continue to source as much equipment and supplies as we can locally.
Create a compost facility at the allotment site for use by the tenants.
Consider further opportunities to plant new trees, sow meadow seed and plant bulbs across the community.
Continue to consider various aspects in relation to the environment as an ongoing commitment.
A few weeks after this meeting, we found ourselves in lockdown. Since then, only necessary work has been undertaken, and many of the above plans have started to fall into place anyway as a result of the implementation of the Government’s social distancing guidelines.
However, we look forward to a time when we have moved away from this awful crisis and will endeavour to work to the above plans with a view to encouraging environmentally friendly practices. We continue to welcome feedback from our local community on these matters.
The Town Council has allocated its Commons Allotment Grant Funding (£4,750.00) as well as Precept Grant Funding (£23,550.00) for 2020/21. A full list can be viewed on the Town Council’s website.
For the first time this year, Members decided to keep a small pot of reserve grant funding to be made available during the period 01st April 2020 – 31st March 2021 for adhoc urgent requests for funding.
At the January Town Council Meeting Members agreed a budget for 2020/21. The precept arrangements reflect an increase of 3.54% on the Town Council element of your council tax bill in respect of 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021.
This equates to an increase of £2.83 per annum for a Band A property and £3.31 per annum for a Band B property compared to last year. (Town Council element of increase only). Full details of increases for all Bands will be available on the Council’s website in due course.
Karen Chapman (Town Clerk)
Through our partnership with Crowdfunder we wanted to let you know that the Aviva Community Fund 2020 is now open for applications.
They believe the charities that make the biggest impact are those that are given the opportunity to innovate and test new ideas without fear of risk. So the Aviva Community Fund supports small charities across the UK and this year they are looking for charities with new ideas who want to make a bigger impact.
Embracing innovation, this year Aviva have adopted an employee giving model where they will be asking their people to distribute the community fund. Every UK employee will be given £60 to support the crowdfunding projects that matter most to them across the year.
Applications are now open for the first round of the Aviva Community Fund in which £250,000 funding is available for small UK – based charities with an annual turnover under £1million with new and innovative ideas.
Click here for more information