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My Council

Keeley Allin Mayor

Mayor’s June Crier Article

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.

Environmental Matters

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.

Commons Allotment Charity Grants and Precept Grants 2020/21 and 20/21 Budget

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)

 

Aviva Community Fund 2020

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

Role of the Mayor

The Role of Mayor can be divided into two distinct areas: Chairman of the Council, and representative of the Town.

CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL

  1. The Mayor is appointed as the first item of business at the Annual Meeting, and remains in office until his/her successor is elected or he/she resigns or is otherwise barred from holding office.
  2. The Town Mayor must be a Member of the Council.
  3. The Town Mayor has precedence within his/her Town before all others except the Sovereign or his/her representatives and the Chairman of the District Council.
  4. If present at a Council Meeting the Mayor must preside and has control of its procedure for enforcing the law and good order.
  5. The Mayor must prevent decisions being taken on matters which are not on the agenda of the Council Meeting.
  6. When presiding at a Meeting the Mayor has the casting vote unless presiding over the election of a new Mayor as his/her last act before ceasing to be a Member of the Council. In such a case he/she only has a casting vote.
  7. Where there is a tie in the election of a Mayor, the presiding Mayor (Chairman) MUST BY LAW give the CASTING VOTE.
  8. The Mayor may on three days notice convene a Council Meeting at any time.
  9. The Mayor must call an extraordinary meeting within seven days if he/she receives a requisition for that purpose signed by two Members of the Council.
  10. The Mayor signs the minutes presented to and approved by the Council Meeting.
  11. In order to discharge the function of Chairman presiding at Council Meetings the Mayor should understand thoroughly the Standing Orders of the Council.
  12. The ruling of the Mayor (Chairman) on a point of order or on the admissibility of a personal explanation SHALL NOT BE DISCUSSED by the Council Meeting.
  13. The Mayor accepts the resignations by Members. 
  14. The Mayor is paid an allowance to meet the expenses of his/her office. Records must be kept to confirm expenditure on Council business.

REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PARISH

The Mayor:

  1. Is the proper person to represent the Parish on ceremonial occasions.
  2. Designate is responsible for informing the Town Clerk whom he/she wishes to invite to the Annual Meeting. 
  3. Designate is responsible for organising and paying for the celebration function following his/her inauguration at the Annual Meeting.
  4. Recommends whom he/she wishes to be the Council Chaplain for his/her term of office. 
  5. Informs the Town Clerk of his/her invitations to the Civic Service and recommends to Council when that service shall be.
  6. Becomes Chairman of the Mayfair Committee at the first meeting of the Mayfair Committee following inauguration as Mayor. 
  7. Visits the local Hospital, Castle House Nursing Home and Woodland Vale on Christmas Day. 
  8. In consultation with the Town Clerk selects the speakers for the May Fair Proclamation. 
  9. Attends with the Council the May Fair proclamation and parade on the first Thursday in May.
  10. Provides and pays for gifts to the May Queen and attendants, Heralds and Crowner at the Mayfair celebrations in the Square.
  11. Attends with the Council the Remembrance Day Service and Parade in November.
  12. Establishes those residents within the Parish celebrating their 100th birthday, Golden and Diamond weddings, visits and offers a card and small gift.
  13. Accepts invitations on behalf of the Parish and attends events as the Representative of the Parish. In such capacity must maintain the dignity of the Parish at all times. Invitations in the region of 75 might be expected. The majority of invitations are within the Parish.
  14. Furthers the policies of the Council with outside bodies.
  15. By custom and practice nominate two Charities for whom he/she will raise money during the year. At the following Annual Meeting, the money raised is then presented to the Charities.
  16. Is responsible for obtaining the licence from the District Council for the Mayor’s Appeal.
  17. Is the only Member of Council (along with the Town Clerk) authorised to speak to the Media on behalf of the Council.
  18. Is responsible for the safekeeping of the Chains of Office which must be protected at all Times.

NOTE: The Mayor is expected to be accompanied by a Mayoress or Consort as appropriate.  This is usually the wife or husband of the Mayor but need not be.

There are duties for the Mayoress/Consort:

a)Choose the theme for the May Fair children’s outfits.

 b)Select the dressmaker to make the outfits.

 c)Meet with the dressmaker and children to measure up for costumes.

 d)Dressmaker also makes the cushion for the May Queen’s crown.

 e)Attends with the Mayor the dress rehearsal on the Wednesday of May Fair week.

  

The Beadle is available (by prior arrangement) to drive the Mayor and Mayoress/Consort to official functions and return them.

This “job description” is not meant to be exhaustive but to give as much of a flavour of the role of Mayor as is reasonable so that the duties and responsibilities do not come as a surprise.

South West Water options

Following a visit from a representative of SWW the following information might be helpful:-

a.Priority Services Registration: This is for people with medical conditions or physical limitations. Once registered the individual will be notified of any interruptions in water supply and will have water delivered to them if there is no supply. The individual will receive a telephone call to advise them of any disruption.  An application for this can be obtained from SWW or from their Website.

b.Debt Helpline: If customers are struggling to pay their water bill South West Water has a debt helpline on 0800 083 0283 and they will talk through different options available. The individual can also contact the Water Care Team via the email watercare@southwestwater.co.uk, or Emma Phillips directly via ephillips@southwestwater.co.uk, and we can arrange a home visit to talk them through the different debt relief options available as well as helping to get them on the most appropriate tariff.

c.The Watercare Tariff: This is for metered customers who are on very low income. To qualify, an individual within the household must receive a qualifying benefit, such as income support or housing benefit.  The tariffs offer a discount of between 15-50% off a water bill. An income assessment is carried out to determine eligibility. An application can be obtained from SWW, or a home visit can be arranged with the Water Care Team/ or Emma Phillips.

d.Switch to a meter: Water meters can save people a considerable amount of money. SWW has advisors who help people establish if a meter could save them money and help with initial applications.  It is free to switch and if, after 24 months a customer considers it isn’t right for them, they can go back to unmeasured charges. In the Great Torrington area only, we are currently offering customers to go onto a ‘Dual Billing Trial’ whereby they can opt to get a water meter installed without changing to metered charges. SWW will then send letters to the customer every quarter to notify them how much water the household has used and the customer will be able to see which charge will be cheaper for them, i.e. the metered charge or their current unmeasured charge. To get involved with this trial, customers can call our Dual Billing team on 01392 442882. 

e.The WaterSure Tariff: This may help a customer reduce their bill if they have a water meter, receive certain benefits and if someone in the home has a medical condition that means extra water is used, or if they have 3 or more children living with them. It works by capping a bill the average annual domestic water and sewerage charges, currently £488.45.

 

New Mayor of Great Torrington

On 29th May 2019 Great Torrington celebrated the introduction of the new Mayor for the forthcoming year, Councillor Miss Keeley Allin.

At the age of 22, Cllr Allin joins the handful of “youngest Mayors” across the country.  However, despite her age she certainly does not lack experience as Keely has been involved with the Town Council from a very young age. At the age of 12 Keeley acted as the Mayor’s consort for her mum and has since had a serious interest in Town Council activity.  Whilst at Great Torrington School Keeley sat on the School Council and was a senior leader in year 11. In 2015 Keeley joined the Town Council as a Councillor and since then has worked hard for Great Torrington, with the people the Council represents being Keeley’s main priority. 

Her proudest achievements are setting up the ‘Town Tidy’ Initiative, which sees everyone come together to tidy the town up before big events such as Mayfair and being part of a group who have worked hard to get a youth club back into the town. 

Keeley said “as Mayor of Great Torrington I am very much looking forward to a busy year ahead, with my diary already filling up! I have set up a Facebook page (Great Torrington Mayor’s Blog) where I will keep everyone updated and will continue to contribute to The Crier with the monthly ‘Mayors News’ article.

 “I feel very proud to hold the office of Mayor of Great Torrington this year and I’m really looking forward to supporting our town and various projects. I also hope that the lovely people of Great Torrington will feel free to contact me if they would like me to attend any events over this forthcoming year.”

Keeley has nominated 1st Torrington Scouts and Torrington Police Amateur Boxing Club as her chosen charities for the forthcoming year.

At the Mayoral Ceremony Pastor Tim Gilbert was welcomed as the Mayor’s Chaplain for the forthcoming year.  The Town Council would also like to thank Reverend Peter Bevan for his service to the Mayor and Town Council as Mayor’s Chaplain over the past two years.

Command Sergeant Major Jimmy Birch was thanked for his service as Mayor’s Cadet for the outgoing Mayor, Cllr Mrs Di Davey and Cpl Holly Rice-Smith was welcomed as the Mayors cadet for the forthcoming year.