The Christmas of 2020 will live long in our memories for all the wrong reasons! It is to be hoped that it was the one and only time in our lives when we were unable to meet up freely with our loved ones. Paradoxically, that experience taught us to value the support of family all the more and to empathise more with those who have no such support.
Pandemic Taught us Lessons
The pandemic has also taught us other lessons about valuing the restorative power of nature. It has accelerated our learning about how we can all make more imaginative use of digital technology, including home working.
Greater Challenge of Climate Change
Communities, like ours, have shown resilience and an ability to adapt, which should stand us in good stead in tackling the even greater challenge of climate change. However, while vaccination offers an end to restrictions, it will be many months before everyone is covered, so we must not let down our guard too soon.
Local Council Tax Precept for 2021/22
This financial year has been a challenging one for the Council. The lockdowns have meant that the Council has both incurred additional costs and lost income in the hiring out of its facilities. The Council has also been largely unable to progress the identified priority maintenance work on the Council’s estate.
Not Intending to Ask for Council Tax Increase
However, the Council recognises that the pandemic has caused significant financial difficulties for many residents as well. As a consequence, the Council has decided that it will not ask for any increase in the Council Tax for the coming financial year. It will concentrate on clearing its backlog of work and inducting new members of staff.
It is richly deserved that John Vine of Newsworld/Stretton Hardware has been chosen as one of twelve finalists by the National Federation of Independent Retailers for its Heroes Awards, in recognition of his outstanding service to the local community through the pandemic. He continues to supply a whole range of goods to those unable to leave their homes and is still making over 150 deliveries per week. The overall winner will be announced later in the Spring.
The Rec Skatepark
The Council very much welcomed the initiative, before Christmas, of local resident, Tom Rochester, in securing and installing skatepark ramps in the Sandford Avenue Recreation Ground. Tom was helped by a willing band of volunteers, known as “The Rec Skate Co.”. They were aided by local firms offering their support and funding generated from residents through a local crowdfunding campaign.
Unfortunately, the skatepark has to remain fenced off until it has had its official Safety Inspection. It is hoped the inspection delay, caused by the pandemic backlog, will not be long and the skatepark will be open before the end of January.
Task Group to improve Park Facilities
A Task Group of Councillors is continuing to assemble ideas on how the park’s facilities can be improved, so as to attract more residents of all ages to make greater use of the park. If you want to contribute to this exercise, please register your interest on the Council website page Contact Us.
Our Response to Shropshire Council’s Community and Rural and Culture Strategies
The Town Council has welcomed Shropshire Council’s ambitious Strategy to work in a more devolved and collaborative way with town and parish councils and other community organisations in defined sub-areas of the county. This joint working will be vital in helping market towns and their surrounding rural areas not only to recover from the pandemic but also to address the climate change agenda in a meaningful way. The Council will engage actively in making a reality of that ambition.
Community Led Plan
Shropshire Council has also laid out an all-embracing strategy to promote cultural activity of all kinds across the county, not only for the well-being of residents but also to maximise the economic benefits of cultural activity. The Steering Group for Church Stretton’s Community-led Plan (CLP) is actively collating ideas of how we can enhance the town’s already strong cultural life. The aim is to be more inclusive of all ages, particularly of younger people and to combine cultural activities more to promote the town’s appeal to visitors. The Council welcomes the prospect of more county support for such activity.
The Council is responsible for managing a substantial estate, including not only Rectory Wood and Field and the Coppice Leasowes Nature Reserve, but also the Park, playing fields and cemeteries, as well as such areas as the War Memorial and the All Stretton play area. In order to ensure public safety, the Council has commissioned a review of all trees with a view to prioritising the work programme going forward.
As a contribution to the climate change agenda, the Council has given permission to the Church Stretton Tree Group to undertake the phased planting of over 300 saplings of different kinds in Rectory Field and Wood.
New Locum Staff
The Council is grateful for the continued services of our part-time locum Town Clerk, Chris Maclean, because the necessary procedures to allow our current Town Clerk, Danny Chetwood, to take early retirement on ill-health grounds, are taking much longer than anticipated. The Council is pleased to have recruited part-time locum replacements for our Clerical Officer and Amenities Officer. These are only temporary appointments, so as to enable the new Town Clerk, when appointed, to be involved in recruiting the other members of the administrative team. In the meanwhile, the Council is endeavouring to deliver as full a service as possible but our response may be subject to some short delay.
Cllr. Bob Welch, Town Mayor