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News March 2016
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Message from Karen Bavastock, Mayor of Bishop’s Castle
2015 has been a very busy year for both me and the Town Council. It started with the news that our Town Clerk was leaving the area and interviews took place to find a new clerk. We were really pleased to welcome Mary Seldon to the council. She has bought a wealth of knowledge to us and joins our assistant clerk Meg Gwilliam. We also said farewell to 2 councillors – John Morris and Jock Wright who have both given many years of service to the council. We have welcomed Josh Dickin, Keith Bance and more recently Ruth Houghton has joined us and all three have agreed to become trustees of the Public Hall and work alongside the new committee and are also making valuable contributions in meetings.
In March we paid tribute to the 47 years of dedicated service Dr G St John Penney had given to Bishop’s Castle in many roles within the community which included being Mayor on more than one occasion.
We then received news that the Public Hall committee were resigning en-masse and we are pleased to welcome a new team to run the hall and I am grateful to them for all their hard work in trying to ensure that the space is well utilised for the benefit of the whole community.
The committee who stepped down were keen to ensure that all the efforts they had put in over many years were not in vain and I am pleased that the new current committee are breathing new life into the building and continuing with the work which has been done to date. This includes a website and many other plans to make the Public Hall a vibrant space to hire.
We were very concerned that we may lose our library and with the help and vision of Enterprise South West Shropshire I hope that this contract will be signed very soon in the New Year and this much needed service remains at Enterprise House.
The Town Hall also has new life breathed into it and is another great community space. I held a charity coffee morning in there and it was great to see so many people using the hall. It is celebrating its 250th birthday this year. We have had support from the Heritage Lottery Fund however we had to raise £62000.00 and thanks to the fundraisers of the target 250 group this has been achieved. The project is near completion and the final evaluations are taking place at the moment.
Finances continue to cause worries for the council. We face some very difficult times with threats to many of the services we rely on because we live in a rural area. Volunteers play a massive role and I know that the community of Bishop’s Castle will do everything they can to ensure that the threats to our services are minimised.
We have had some very difficult decisions to make and inevitably we have had to increase the precept however due to the commitment of the town council this has been reduced significantly to the original calculation of the precept as we are mindful in this day and age we have had to look at ways in which we can cut our expenditure. I am sure that when people ask for a donation to charity or other things that they will understand that we have to look at the public purse and balance the books and regretfully will not be able to provide monetary support.
I sincerely hope that we are able to retain SpArC Leisure Centre as the loss of this facility would be a massive blow. I am sure that the community will get behind this and somehow we will succeed. It will not be for the want of trying as the town is very committed to retaining this very valuable service and asset.
We have lost a number of shops this year and I very much hope we will be welcoming more shops and businesses very soon with some much needed jobs. We have a beautiful town and so much to offer and I hope we can attract some more shops very soon to compliment the very diverse range of shops and services we already offer in town.
We have sadly lost a number of people this year and whilst I won’t name individuals a number of them have made great contributions to the town and we will not forget them.
Our patients group have put a massive amount of hours into the future of Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital and have been looking at how the proposals for the future of our healthcare could benefit the hospital and indeed the community with health care delivery on a much more local basis. I am confident with the efforts of the patients group and the dedicated work of the medical practice that we will have a voice in the plans which currently seem to be on hold.
I have presented certificates at a Pathways Project organised by Ian Ball and his team. We welcomed a number of people from Europe to look at volunteering and what a wonderful few days they had which included a ride on a steam engine and a number of visits to community groups and enterprises. After all we have so many projects run by volunteers and I know from chatting to the visitors just how impressed they were with our town and how keen they were to get home and look to implement some of the things they had seen.
In addition we celebrated the 30th year of the tandem triathlon with a presentation of certificates at a packed Community College Hall. A massive amount of volunteers take part in ensuring that the day goes off well and it was a pleasure to play a very small part in this.
The next day saw Bishop’s Castle Carnival, again many volunteers have to pull together to make this event happen. Sadly the weather let us down but Bishop’s Castle spirit was everywhere and the show went on and was a very enjoyable event.
I am so aware of the efforts within our community of volunteers. We thrive because of the dedication of many people locally; therefore I was delighted to get the support of the council to introduce civic awards which soon became extended to cover awards for our allotment holders as well.
The night of the awards ceremony was a very proud one for me, being able in a small way to say thank you and recognise the massive contribution all the nominated winners have made in our community. They were nominated by the community and I sincerely hope people are thinking about who to nominate this coming year. There are so many to choose from.
On a personal level I have seen both the worst of people and the very best of people and it is to my friends and family and indeed the vast majority of people in Bishops Castle that I owe a debt of gratitude and give thanks for the encouragement and support I have been given. It is these people that give me the strength to get up each morning and like many other volunteers do whatever I can to ensure that our town is a place where people want to live and visit. My consort Rosemary Griffiths is a great support. My business partner Steve also deserves thanks as he understands the many interruptions I get during a working day and without his support and indeed the support of our customers I would not be able to carry out the role of mayor.
My nephew turned 18 and my nieces are 10 and 6 years old and I feel it is just so important that we work hard to ensure that the future generations are left with a healthy legacy from us all. My niece Leela is part of the Primary School choir, which, under the direction of Andrew Barker, the Headmaster is an absolute pleasure to watch. The work which goes into the choir must be massive and the pupils are a credit to their parents and the Primary School.
We also have some great work being done by Alan Doust and his team at the Community College as well as the staff at Crowgate Children’s Centre. All ensure that young people are given the skills and tools to help them in later life. I am in contact with people who have moved away from the area but Bishop’s Castle is still very much home for them like it is for us all.
Our new clerk Mary has worked really hard to ensure that the newsletter reflects the issues going on in the community and thanks to her hard work and support to get sponsors. The newsletter is being well received within the community and we have had some really positive feedback and our sponsors are growing with each edition.
We held an afternoon on the playing fields during the summer holidays which was very well supported. My thanks go to Sportsm8es who offered their services for free and ensured that the afternoon went brilliantly and everyone enjoyed it. I really hope that some of the parents who were present organise a programme of events next year.
So I look to the future and 2016. We face many challenges and it is vital that we pool our resources and knowledge and step up to ensure that services and facilities like the SpArC, Bishops Castle Community Hospital, shops and businesses are retained and prosper. It is so important that as a community we support local businesses who offer such a wide range of products and services.
Many other individuals and organisations make up our community which include firemen, police, medical practice and many other volunteer groups and we must do all we can to support the people who make up these organisations. I am heartened by some of the comments made in the town plan which are all very positive and it shows we all value living here and by working together we can continue to make our town and home the special place it is.
For anyone I have missed out – I apologise. It will highlight just how many people I have to acknowledge and thank for making this year such a successful one. If you haven’t been mentioned I can assure you that you are just as important as those who have been mentioned in this letter.
It just leaves me to wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016.
Mayor of Bishop’s Castle
The council consists of 12 councillors,
all elected every 4 years. The mayor is a councillor elected annually
by the members of the council. The mayors role is to steer
the council, chair its meetings and wear the regalia of the office
on formal occasions. The council meets every four weeks in the
council chamber of the Town Hall (pictured below).