A review of Town Council activities during the year and a look ahead to future plans by Councillor Sue Clarke, Mayor of Buckfastleigh
2020 has certainly been a year to remember for us all for many different reasons. We should be grateful that our little town has not seen high levels of infection or death from Covid 19, whilst also acknowledging the economic impact it has had on many residents, businesses, and organisations.
We should be very proud of the response to the pandemic in Buckfastleigh and we all owe a great debt of gratitude to those volunteers who swung into action immediately to manage all the things that were needed to ensure people kept themselves safe and well and had enough to eat. Councillor Andy Stokes and former councillor Pam Barrett were heavily involved in this effort along with Tom Benson and Laura McAdam from St Luke’s, Judith, our redoubtable Town Clerk and District Cllrs Sarah Parker-Khan and John Nutley. I have had so many people tell me just how grateful they were for a much needed parcel from the Food Bank, about how their relative was able to get their prescriptions delivered or how welcome it was to have a friendly, calm voice on the end of the phone to bring a sense of reassurance.
The way this small community pulled together regardless of political differences or personal relationships in a time of fear and uncertainty is something we should not forget as we return to our usual day to day business. I would like to see 2021 as a year where we continue to build on those positive partnerships so that Buckfastleigh Town Council can continue to forge a progressive path for the benefit of its constituents and continue to support the work of our voluntary services.
In the last year we have said some goodbyes, to Deputy Chair Pam Barrett a powerhouse of ideas, energy, and that ability that some are just born with to make waves and get things done. To Ray our Town Ranger who was popular with everyone and helped establish the role as a roving trouble-shooter, but also some welcome hellos. Cllr Erin Kohler-Ockmore; willing to step into the Deputy Chair role and run with it, Bryony Tilsley who comes with a wealth of good ideas and our new Town Ranger Gary Quest, who is already trying to raise the profile of the post and make himself more accessible. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the rest of the Town Council and Town Hall staff, Inga, Clair, and Kiki and all the Councillors who have stepped up to give their time and energy to our community.
The Virtual Youth Well-being Café and Outreach project which has now evolved to running sessions at the Town Hall has been a success story and we have just financed this initiative for a further year. We have again approved partial funding of the very popular Hello Summer Programme, now in its fifth year, to run a wide range of activities and projects by Be Buckfastleigh in association with Participate Arts that are now an essential part of the offer from this Town Council to the young people and families of Buckfastleigh and Buckfast.
We have also funded over £54,000 in grants to support our amazing local organisations who operate for the benefit of the community and I would like to convey my thanks to all of those who were involved with our fantastic Christmas lights display at Buckfastleigh Primary School with a special mention to Cllr Darren Greep for organising this.
So, an exciting year ahead and a lot of work to still be done. I am confident that we have the right people here to do it.
Councillor Sue Clarke, Mayor of Buckfastleigh 21 April 2021