From: Cllr. Bob Welch, Town Mayor
Pandemic Marathon not a Sprint
To date, our community has been both fortunate and disciplined in ensuring that the local level of infection has been kept low. However, now is the most testing time when the maintenance of that discipline will be all the more important.
After months of taking tedious precautions, we are all now impatient for the pandemic to end but it will still be some months before the mass vaccination programme will have been completed, however well the logistics are handled. Furthermore, because we are safe only when everyone is safe, it will be vital that residents of all ages respond positively when called for vaccination so as to maximise the immunity of the whole community.
Mass vaccination promises to end the threat to our physical health, but, whether through bereavement, physical or mental illness as a result of the pandemic, some members of our community will continue to suffer the after-effects for some considerable time to come.
Look Out for Each Other
We will all have a continuing responsibility to look out for each other. That has been one of the most heartening features of this last depressing year in that residents of all ages have come together to help each other and formed lasting bonds of mutual support.
Excellence of Local Shops
As our local shops seek to recover from the pandemic, it is a good time to report that a second local shop has received a regional award for excellence. Joanne Bickerton and her dedicated staff at Entertaining Elephants have been awarded the Lifestyle Trader of the Year Award for the Central Region.
Lifestyle Trader of the Year Award
This is in recognition of their “service excellence, quality of service provided, innovative practices, value, ethical or sustainable methods of working, as well as consistency of performance.” Customers described it as “a treasure trove of …. eco-friendly, ethically sourced, ever-changing, interesting and unusual quality goods, which are locally produced (wherever possible)…… the best wholefood shop I have ever visited”. The friendly personal delivery service, booked shopping times and interesting newsletter are all very much appreciated. Independent, adaptable and high quality shops, like Entertaining Elephants, are a great asset to the town, richly deserving of support from both residents and visitors.
Making Memories for Christmas,
The Council would also like to commend Charlotte Griffin-Jones of Heather and Batch Coffee House. She launched the initiative, Making Memories for Christmas, that, from the autumn half-term break through Christmas and New Year, has provided food and gift parcels to local families in need. This was a collaborative effort with Simmons market trader and St. Laurence Food Bank, aided by a £500 grant from the local Rotary Club.
Stretton Climate Care
Stretton Climate Care has for many years been helping local residents to adapt their homes to be warmer at less cost. The Town Council will be working closely with Stretton Climate Care to explore how much more we, as a community, can be doing to address this agenda, so that we are as compliant as possible with the government’s targets for reducing carbon emissions.
Dispense with Gas-fired Appliances
This will require as many homes as possible not only to improve their insulation but also to dispense, at some point with gas-fired central heating and cooking in favour of such alternatives as Ground Source Heat Pumps. It is encouraging to learn that several local residents have recently been successful with applications to the government’s latest Green Homes Voucher scheme, now extended to March 2022. This provides grants of up to £5,000 for energy improvements to homes, rising to £10,000 for those on benefits. Simultaneous application to the Renewable Heat Incentive will, Stretton Climate Care advise, almost certainly cover the total cost of an Air Source Heat Pump.
All residents are encouraged to take full advantage of these government schemes, especially as so many local homes have poor energy efficiency. For further information, see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-green-homes-grant-scheme Stretton Climate Care are very willing to give advice and assistance with applications – www.strettonclimatecare.org.uk
The Town Council owns the majority of streetlights on the town’s residential streets. A large number of the concrete lamp-posts were installed over twenty-five years ago and are now in need of replacement. Accordingly, the Council is launching a programme of replacing the concrete posts with aluminium ones. At the same time, the streetlights will be converted to more efficient, less costly LED lighting, as part of the Council’s carbon reduction programme. With many households in the town not having garages, the Council is factoring into this exercise the options for the future in terms of the on-street charging of electric vehicles.
The Council would like to apologise for the poor quality of the Christmas Lights on Sandford Avenue this year, with several strings not functioning properly. As a result, the Council will be conducting an extensive review of the set-up. Future options and recommendations will be discussed with local traders, whose contributions to the seasonal display with their own Christmas Trees and Lights are very much appreciated.