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Mayors News

Mayor’s Cadet 2021

The presentation of the new Mayor’s Cadet was held on 20th July 2021 at Torrington Cadet Hut which the Mayor was delighted to attend. Cadet SJT Jack Pledger-Sussex was selected as this years Mayor’s Cadet by the Torrington Army Cadet Force who said:

“Great Torrington Army Cadet Force is very proud of SJT Pledger-Sussex, he has a lot of good qualities as a cadet as well as a member of Great Torrington community. Becoming Mayor’s Cadet has always been a huge ambition for Jack and he has worked hard to achieve this high honour within the cadet force. Within the ACF becoming Mayor’s Cadet is what every cadet hopes to achieve but only a few accomplish, being Mayor’s Cadet is an important job serving the community along with the Mayor, it gives that cadet a real sense of pride and self esteem.

SJT Pledger-Sussex is a cadet who already has a lot of good qualities, he is always very well turned out and takes pride in the way he looks and is always willing to help other cadets as well as the community in general, Jack is on his way to becoming Great Torrington’s first Staff cadet which has never been achieved before within Great Torrington detachment and only a few cadets have ever made within Devon ACF, with an ambition to become a ACF adult instructor within the next few years.

At Great Torrington detachment we are all very proud of Jack and what he has achieved within the Devon Army Cadet Force as well as at detachment level, we are very honoured that he is part of our detachment and feel that he has a great future laying in front of him both within the ACF and his working life, not only has Jack set new records within the Devon ACF, we are certain he will also do the same in life”.

Several members of Jack’s family have already served with Great Torrington Army Cadets including his Mum and two Uncles both of which also served as Mayor’s Cadet (one of which being the first ever in Great Torrington), Jack is now proudly continuing this tradition within his family. Many congratulation SJT Jack Pledger-Sussex, the Mayor looks forward to working alongside you at a number of events throughout the coming year.

Mayor’s August/September Crier Article

What a glorious early Summer we’ve (almost) had.  We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful part of the country where traditionally people from up and down the land saved their pennies to be able to come on holiday. Now more than ever with the overseas travel clampdown reducing the numbers of overseas guests very noticeably we can expect a much-needed influx of UK “staycationers” throughout the summer months.  I know we’ll all extend them a hearty Devon welcome… us’ll be plaised to see ‘em

The Local Plan referendum has taken place now and at the time of writing, we await Torridge District Council’s formal adoption.  I’d like to pay particular tribute to Cllr Clayton who along with previous councillors Roger Darch, Ruth Funnell & Alan Williams spent a vast amount of time preparing this extraordinarily detailed document.

By now most of us are aware of our local Co-vid Testing Facility in Castle Hill carpark on Tuesdays and Thursdays between. No appointment is necessary, but these times do change, so PLEASE do check before turning up. Testing and vaccination reluctance is sadly a fact of life, but I would strongly urge everyone to join me in being tested regularly as well as taking advantage of the vaccinations offered. The sooner we all become double jabbed the sooner we will be able to relax a little more.

It is wonderful to see both the swimming pool now partly re-opened, and the Skate Park back in full swing again now that the skateboard ramps have been replaced.  During a recent inspection the Bellcotte over the Market House was found to be in urgent need of remedial work. The plan is to remove it while it is rejuvenated, then reinstate it along with a new bell if that’s practical.

Last month’s Crier featured an article about Fiware4Water which is all about local water awareness and saving. The organising group held a European webinar, where speakers from Great Torrington were invited to give a brief synopsis of our progress to new groups in Eastern Europe.  Mike Machin and I were free, so we gave a Zoom presentation along with groups from Amsterdam, Cannes and Athens explaining our social history and detailing how we went about setting up our local water forum, which is hoped will lead on to mutually beneficial conversations and interactions

We have beentalking to Devon County Council who are responsible for Tarka Trail verge management and are looking to see if we could synchronise and integrate our local grass cutting and wild flower management policy with their statutory responsibility to keep the trail wide enough for social distancing.

We have seen a number of new shops opening in town in the last few weeks, so do visit them and put them on your ‘shop local’ list. They are adding to the diversity of retail outlets which all goes to make our town centre so very special.

The Town Council is gradually returning to face-to-face meetings, which, to comply with social distancing regulations, are held in the amazing Great Hall at our Town Hall.  How different it is to be looking at real people once more. Do remember, our meetings are open to the public, and we encourage you to come along to find out what is happening, although active participation is limited to a three-minute address which needs to be submitted in advance to the Town Clerk.

I have a few local appointments in my diary over the next few weeks which I am very much looking forward to and hoping they are not cancelled!  I will report about these events in the next CRIER.

Wishing you all a safe and happy summer time.

Cllr Doug Smith

Mayor of Great Torrington

cllr.smith@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

07970 636199

Mayor’s visit to the Youth Genesis events 23rd & 24th July 2021

I was invited to visit the Youth Genesis group on Friday at the Calf Street Skate Park where the group were involved not only with skating, but also with Graffiti painting.  I was most interested to find out how responsible they were in not over painting other peoples’ work, and the respect they showed to the venue was brilliant.  It really opened my eyes to this whole trend.

Saturday was my first time back in the Plough for ages, this was a very different experience.  This time the youngsters were more focussed on the Skate and Scooter boarding, which was truly inspirational to watch.  They were astonishingly talented and were having so much fun. My great fear was that I might be asked to demonstrate my own skating skills on the floor, but I managed to creep away in the nick of time, thanks to my ever mindful Beadle, Andy.

Mayor’s July Crier Article

Our Mayfair was sorely missed again this year especially by the young people who were hoping to play a central part in the festivities, but other casualties were the Glastonbury Festival, the North Devon Show, and Ocean Fest, so we were sadly in line with the recommendations which we must remember were put in place for our safety. Now things are slowly opening up once more, we must be cautious and not think this awful scourge has finally disappeared. On 6th May however we still managed to stage our traditional reading of the Proclamation from the steps of the Town Hall.  Our Town Crier shook the buildings with his dulcet tones, the Town Clerk read the Proclamation and after our outgoing Mayor, Cllr Allin exhorted us to continue with our post Covid rejuvenation and support local shops and businesses.  Finally, one of our Macebearers Tim Cloke delivered a most poignant speech recalling our illustrious heritage.

The following week I had the privilege of declaring the new Refill Shop open. We have yet another gem in our midst, and I encourage everyone to pop in to see what great things Bruce and Michael have in store. Every day there are new lines to tempt us, and I’m certainly becoming a regular. I can resist anything except temptation!

On the 26th in the Town Hall, the Council Planning Committee convened the first face-to-face meeting to be held for over a year. It was good to see what people really looked like in the flesh once more!   During the lockdown Zoom has been an absolute godsend for those of us who needed to continue with meetings while observing lockdown, but I do hope this easing of rules is the sign of things to come.

As reported in last month’s CRIER, Val and Peter Morris have dedicated a vast amount work over many years to the continued existence of our Town Museum. In recognition of these unstinting efforts, and being proposed for the award by a member of the community, the Town Council voted that they be awarded the Howe Plate for service to the community this year. It was lovely to meet with them both in the gardens of Castle Hill to present the plate and the certificate on behalf of the Town and Council.  Val and Peter were both surprised and delighted, and were grateful for the recognition.  As if joining in the celebration, the sun made a special guest appearance which made it the perfect opportunity to sit in the beautiful garden and sample the delights now on offer from ‘The Fork ’n Feast’.

Now seems to be the appropriate time to remember our wonderful local shops who were able to remain open throughout these past months.  They were absolute Stalwarts…. Our local Champions.  Our best way of thanking them is to continue to ‘shop local’ and even more than most of us already do.  Great Torrington has a well-deserved and envied reputation for the variety and diversity of choice available to shoppers and wouldn’t it be a huge lost opportunity if we didn’t build on this as a key part of our Town’s recovery and revitalisation?

Town Tidy is now a well-established movement thanks largely to Councillor Allin and many other determined towns folk. It will continue to enhance our streets but why, oh why do people insist on hanging dog poo bags in trees and bushes when we are already providing and emptying proper disposal points?  This habit is absolutely disgusting and must be discouraged.  Please.

After the heartache of Mayfair, we are now looking forward with anticipation to some late summer street events.  It’s a bit early to know what form they will be taking, but I know there are plots and plans afoot.  Who knows, so watch this space, and remember we have ‘The Mayflower’ bonfire to cheer to at the end of August.

Cllr Doug Smith, Mayor of Great Torrington

Cllr.smith@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

07970 636199

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

cllr.smith@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

07970 636199

Mayor’s May Crier Article

It is hoped that by the time you read this, the restrictions in place will be eased even more. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say we are all looking forward to seeing family an friends and taking a much-deserved visit to our fabulous, local independent shops. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for keeping our town safe during these difficult times. We’ve still got hurdles ahead of us, but without everyone doing their part, we wouldn’t be in the position we are. We truly are Great Torrington!

Work carries on in the Town Council and we have been busy preparing for better times. As you will have seen in last month’s Crier, the town now has three maps. A revised Town Centre map and Civil War Trail and a new Heritage Trail map. These are the result of lots of hard work by many different people and it is exciting to think we are really beginning to shout about what we have to offer in our lovely town! A huge thank you to everyone involved in the ongoing Marketing Working group; it’s also great to hear lots of projects in the pipeline.

On 24th March I attended, along with the Mayors of Bideford, Holsworthy and Northam, our regular Mayors and Clerks meeting. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we haven’t all been able to meet up in person for a while now but it was good to be able to see them on screen and learn how their individual towns have been coping. These meetings are also helpful as we have updates from Torridge District Council and an opportunity to raise any issues we may have. It is a good way to learn from each other.

As I write this, I am looking forward to presenting my report at our Annual Parish meeting on the 15th April. It will be via Zoom this year and we are pleased that it already looks like we will have a good number of members of the community attending. Despite the strangeness of this past year, I am looking forward to reporting on Council activity. I am extremely proud to say that we all work together; we are one team.

As you may already be aware, our Annual Business meeting will take place on the 6th of May, where a new Mayor/Chair of the council will be confirmed and will officially take over. Again, this meeting will be via Zoom so will almost certainly feel very different, but I look forward to welcoming the new Mayor into the role.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need anything at all; I’m always happy to help.

Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington (cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk)

Mayor’s April Crier Article

Where is this year going? I hope you are all keeping well and continuing to stay safe during these difficult times, and that you are remaining hopeful about the way forward. It is important to keep reminding ourselves of how far we have come and that we will come through this time and be all the stronger when we do.

Beginning to think ahead, I am especially looking forward to our independent shops re-opening. Our town centre is full of many unique shopping opportunities and to be able to come into town to buy a gift or a treat for yourself will be very special. I would like to re-enforce my Mayor’s challenge to “Shop Local” as much as you can. Our traders have all been incredible during the pandemic; either adjusting work patterns, or closing altogether for our safety; all so that we have been able to shop for essentials and  keep safe! Please support them back as we transition into restrictions being lifted.

Whilst my calendar remains quite empty in terms of events, the Town Council has continued to be busy and we have used this to work on some marketing initiatives. The new Marketing Working Group have been very proactive recently and you will note from other articles and the CRIER’s front cover that we will soon have two map trails available for the town. This is an exciting initiative and we hope that locals and visitors will learn more about the town’s rich heritage.

I know we are all anxious to get back to some kind of normality, but we must remain vigilant and remember the three disciplines… hands, face and space. We are incredibly fortunate that rates have been so low in Great Torrington and Torridge so let’s keep it that way.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need anything; I’m very happy to help in any way I can!

Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington

cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

07783711500

Mayor’s March Crier Article

As I write this, we are still in a national lockdown and I hope you are all keeping well.  I am aware that times have continued to be difficult, but know that people are helping each other across the community. Please don’t forget to reach out for help if you need it.

January seemed to last a long time but we are hopeful that once we get to March, we will see the coming of Spring. Let’s hope that brings us all a little bit of joy and sunshine

I have not been as busy as I would like recently as all events I would be usually attending are cancelled however, I have enjoyed doing various interviews over the last few weeks. I was pleased to be able to talk to Devon Live about my time as Mayor and about being a young mayor and Town Councillor. As much as I enjoy talking about my role, I always take these chances to talk about how Great, Great Torrington is! I can’t wait until a time when we can safely invite visitors so that they can see for themselves all the lovely things we have to offer!

As an off shoot of this interview, I was contacted by Kevin Wadland from Plymouth Hospital Radio to record something for the hospital radio station. This was something very different for me but very exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The interview will be put out on a Saturday morning at Derriford Hospital and will also be available to listen to on SoundCloud.

Whilst we are not organising our usual annual events at the Town Council over the next few months, we are still very much, “business as normal” and are working on some exciting projects, one being our new Marketing Working group. Great Torrington has so much to offer and we are looking to ensure we celebrate it and publicise for locals and visitors. We are focussing on the heritage, environmental, cultural aspects alongside the independent small shopping experience.  We are actively working on various maps, which include a History Trail, organised by the Futures Group, Civil War Trail and a map of the town centre of Great Torrington setting out the various shops and businesses.

I want to thank everyone who has joined this group. These relatively quieter times have given us a chance to prepare for the future of the town.

Another longer-term project is a History Alive Weekend, being headed up by John Wardman, Dave Gibbons, Peter Hood in conjunction with the Marketing Group. The sub-group have been working extremely hard on this idea and the committee were delighted to hear an update last month; more information is included in a separate article this month.

I hope, by the time this article reaches you all, that we will see ourselves in a different position. The vaccines are being rolled out and I want to thank everyone in our community who has played their part.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you need anything.

Cllr Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington

07783711500 – cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

Mayor’s February Crier Article

I hope you all had a happy and healthy New Year and an enjoyable Christmas, despite the restrictions. I would like to thank all key workers who worked during the Christmas period in our hospitals, nursing homes and other sectors. You have all been there for people who may not have been able to see their family and I am sure they are all very grateful.

We now find ourselves in another lockdown due to Covid-19. At the time of writing this, we have been fortunate to have relatively low numbers of cases in Great Torrington. I am sure that it is thanks to everyone playing their part to keep our community safe. I would therefore like to thank all our essential shops for continuing to step up to serve our community and to ensure that everyone has exactly what they need, as well as our ‘non-essential’ shops who have had to close once again to help towards keeping our town safe.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas I was delighted to hear that may local traders were busy and felt very well supported by the community. It seems that people really embraced the ‘shop local’ message! I would urge you all to continue this during these next few weeks and, once we can shop a little more normally again, to continue to support all of our local traders. We have so much to offer in Great Torrington and I for one cannot wait until more of our shops are open again.

With various vaccines now approved, there is the beginning of a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. I have heard of a number of people in our town being called up for their vaccines, along with many of our nursing home staff and residents. This is a great step for everyone in our town and I look forward to a time when more of us can be vaccinated. However, for now, we must remain vigilant as there is still a long way to go.

Business at the Town Council remains open! However, the office remains closed for face-to-face interaction, but we can still be contacted either by phone, email or via our website/Facebook pages. We are currently working with TTVS who have various services available for anyone needing help in these uncertain times.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need anything.

Cllr Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington

07783711500 – cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk