Change at the top as deputy mayor ousted

By Zoë Uglow in Local People

THERE was controversy at the annual meeting of Holsworthy Town Council when opposition for the role of deputy mayor saw the retiring deputy leave before proceedings had ended.

The annual meeting — with its new ‘civic event’ style layout — was held on Wednesday, May 3, in the Memorial Hall and saw a good turn out.

With the bang of the gavel, mayor elect Jon Hutchings got proceedings underway. He began by thanking the number of local residents who had turned out to the event and said: “We have tried to bring some ‘civicness’ back to Holsworthy! Let’s see how it goes.”

Cllr Hutchings was then invited by town clerk Vanessa Saunders to give an address.

He said 2016/17 has been a very busy year for the council with work beginning on ‘the largest building project probably ever undertaken’ the Holsworthy Sports Pavilion refurbishment, a move to new offices and an increase in staff.

Cllr Hutchings thanked handyman George Wilcox, the newest employee of the town council, for his hard work this year. Mr Wilcox has taken on some of the town’s ‘greener projects’ and has also helped make Badock Gardens look ‘pretty’ again — with the help of assistant town clerk Kerry and what Cllr Hutchings called her ‘feminine touch’.

He said throughout his first year as mayor there have been a number of memorable occasions for him, including the public meeting with the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive Alison Diamond to save Holsworthy Hospital’s inpatient bed facility and the town’s Christmas lights switch on event — also mentioning St Peter’s Fair, starting the Ruby Run, opening a revamped family garden, a memorial seat dedication and the recent charity tractor run.

He also listed a number of new projects the town council has undertaken with the help of other organisations. For example the council worked with Holsworthy Football Club and Devon Air Ambulance to set up the ‘night landing’ site and has also been able to install four out of the five defibrillators secured for the town by working alongside the South West Ambulance Trust.

Cllr Hutchings thanked the council and its members for the hard work they have put in over the last year supporting him and helping to make these projects possible.

He said: “I want to thank Vanessa, our town clerk, and Kerry, our assistant to the clerk. Every time I go into the office I seem to give them something new to do!”

He joked that ‘they do moan a lot’ but said: “I think the work they do for us as councillors is invaluable.”

He added: “I believe the council have been proactive over the last 12 months, which some will say has made a pleasant change! This is thanks to our subcommittee chairs and those councillors working on the committees.”

He concluded: “All in all, the last 12 months has been not only a massive learning curve, but has also meant many firsts for me!

“I have been so very proud to represent our town over the last 12 months and I thank the councillors for allowing me the opportunity to be mayor of Holsworthy.”

The council then moved to the next item on the agenda, which was the election of mayor and deputy mayor for the year 2017/18.

Cllr Keith Musker was first to propose Cllr Hutchings for the role of mayor for a second year, adding: “I think he has done an excellent job this year and want to see him continue to do good for the town.”

Cllr Hutchings was re-elected mayor of the town, unopposed.

They proceeded to the election of deputy mayor. Cllr John Allen proposed current deputy Cllr Pat Smith, saying: “She has done a splendid job supporting the mayor. She has good experience and knowledge and I believe she should be able to support him in the future.”

To the surprise of the audience and councillors, Cllr Jennifer Briggs, the newest member of the council, made a second proposal. She put Cllr Colin Punter forward for the role, saying: “I feel he has the knowledge and skill to do the role well. I am new, but he has already proved himself to be a good councillor to me.”

A vote was held and Cllr Punter, with five votes to four, was brought in as the new deputy mayor.

Cllr Smith felt she was unable to stay for the rest of the meeting after handing over the chain of office and promptly left the hall.

The meeting continued to the presentation section, with a number of awards and certificates being presented.

Awarded the Freeman of Holsworthy was Andrew Chidley. Presenting the award, Cllr Hutchings said: “It was agreed the Freeman of Holsworthy Award 2017/18 should be awarded to Mr Andrew Chidley for all his hard work for the community.

“The award is for the unsung heroes of the town, the people who go unnoticed for the hard work they do — obviously I qualify for this award too as I’m barely ever in the paper right?

“But in all seriousness, Andrew has lived and worked in the town all his life. He works continually with St Peter and St Pauls on a volunteer basis, and also finds time to ensure the cycle path and area near where he lives is kept clear of debris and general rubbish.”

Mr Chidley thanked the council for bestowing the award on him.

This year saw the introduction of another award, ‘Community Champions’, which hoped to thank those who have put in hard work and shown commitment to supporting the town.

Out of a list of 15 initial candidates, the council narrowed it down to six Community Champions. They are: Brian Hunt — who works in the Memorial Hall and goes beyond the call of his role, helping with all events whilst also maintaining a job at Waitrose and caring for his elderly mother; Martin Prentice — who has provided Holsworthy with experience, skill and time, has brought in more than £2-million of grant money over the last decade and is chairman and treasurer of Holsworthy Rural Community Transport; Rodney Parrish — most well known in the town as ‘Papparazzi Parrish’, he attends every event, taking photographs and documenting them on his website to create an archive of the town; Jim Harvey — a 2Lt in the Holsworthy Army Cadet Force, he provides dedicated support for the young people of the town and offers a platform for them to challenge themselves and go on adventures that could transform their lives; Malcolm Withall — a volunteer for the 1st Holsworthy Scouts, he once attended the Scouts with Cllr Hutchings and has received a number of awards for the work he does. He dedicates much of his time taking the young people camping and although he has to manage a group of 30 he takes care of every single child under his watch.

The mayor thanked each recipient for the hard work they put in to support the town and presented them each with a framed certificate.

The investiture of the mayor’s cadets was then held. The mayor thanked last year’s cadet, Jack Hill, and welcomed LCpl Tilly Daniel to the role for 2017/18.

Finally £3,000 of council grants was presented to various local groups. This year’s recipients were: Holsworthy Rural Community Transport, £200 — to assist with the cost of running the ring and ride service, and £250 — to assist with the cost of running the town shuttle bus; Holsworthy Pre-School, £200 — to buy two electronic tablets with suitable apps for pupils; Citizens Advice Bureau, £500 — to support the running of the Holsworthy CAB office, including training for volunteers; Friends of Holsworthy Library, £100 — to purchase display boards and chairs and pay author visit fees; Macular Support, £100 — to help with the transport costs for members; Bude Canal Trust, £100 — for costs of a small work boat to help volunteers remove reeds; Holsworthy Museum, £300 — to develop a new website and upgrade the current alarm system; Twinning Association, £250 — to provide a welcome reception for the French visitors in May 2017; Holsworthy Youth Centre, £500 — to assist the volunteers in providing activities for the young people who attend; St Peter’s Fair Committee, £500 — to assist in the costs of running St Peters Fair in 2017.

With a final bang of the gavel, Cllr Hutchings closed the meeting.

The council expressed its thanks to the public for attending and adjourned the meeting until the following week.

The evening was then concluded with refreshments and entertainment from Holsworthy Town Band.

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