Okehampton Town Council
Okehampton Town Council Chamber The Town Hall in Okehampton The town centre of Okehampton Swiss style chalet, Simmons Park, Okehampton Simmons Park, Okehampton, walks along the East Okement River Adventure play ground, Simmons Park, Okehampton Children's play area, Parklands Leisure Centre and putting green in Simmons Park, Okehampton Band stand, Simmons Park, Okehampton The Skate Park, Okehampton Dartmoor Railway, Okehampton

Mayor's News

May Mayoral Musings

VE day 75 on the 8th May.  There were great plans afoot to celebrate this event, both locally and nationally, which had to be scaled down with it being down to individuals to decide how best they could celebrate in line with government guidelines.  However you spent it, it was a wonderful opportunity to think of those who laid down their lives for our freedom and to rejoice and give thanks for the liberties we have enjoyed as a result.  It was made all the more poignant by the current situation we find ourselves in where it is our turn to protect the generation that made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

I stood on my doorstep at 11 am, wearing the Mayor's day chain, to observe the two minute silence.  In that time my thoughts travelled to my grandfathers - both of whom were involved in the war.  One was at El Alamein in North Africa and the other was a locksmith which was a reserved occupation.  He lived in the Midlands and was responsible for securing banks and other buildings that were bombed during the Blitz.  I thought about their wives and young children and tried to imagine what had been going through their minds when the announcement was made on the 8th May 1945.  As a nation, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who have gone before which can never be repaid and each one lives on in our memories.

Now, as then, neighbour is helping neighbour, key workers and volunteers are putting themselves on the front line to keep vital services running and families are learning how to keep in touch with one another through the wonders of modern technology.

Councillors made the decision not to hold an Annual Meeting this year, so there will be no changes to the committee membership.  I will continue as Mayor with Cllr Dr Ireland as Deputy Mayor.  The Chairmen of the Committees will remain as Cllr Leech (Planning); Cllr Marsh (Parks); Cllr Tolley (Policy & Resources) and Cllr Goffey (Property).

As Mayor, I continue to chair the Council meetings with our meetings being conducted digitally - a new experience for everyone!  These meetings are open to the public and the Clerk includes details of how to join when the agendas are published which are available from the Town Council website.  The Town Council has been working hard behind the scenes to offer support to the voluntary organisations who are helping those who are self-isolating.  We have offered funding, equipment and staff time and have set aside a 3,000 discretionary Hardship Fund to which individuals in need can apply.  Details are on the Town Council website.

On a final note, I should like to express my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones over these last few weeks - whether to COVID 19 or for other reasons.  Coping with bereavement is hard enough when we can surround ourselves with friends and family.  Going through it without that physical support network makes it even harder and my heart goes out to you.


March Mayoral Musings

Fairtrade Fortnight ran from 24th February to 8th March and on Sunday 1st March I went along to Fairplace Church to listen to two Cocoa Producers from Ghana who were taking part in the service.  This was followed by a Community Lunch in the Ockment Centre where they spoke again.  They were telling us about the importance of Fairtrade and how it enables them to make a sustainable living as part of a Co-operative.  The funding the Co-operative receives from the sale of Fairtrade chocolate is put back into the community in West Africa and used to improve the lives of the people living there.  Examples of this include providing education facilities; housing for teachers; fresh water and giving women a voice and a recognised position.
Okehampton is a Fairtrade Town and Okehampton Town Council approved a grant to the Okehampton Fairtrade Group which enabled them to run a conference in Okehampton Primary School.  This gave the children an opportunity to talk about Fairtrade issues and enable them to meet the Cocoa Producers from Ghana.  I presented the cheque to the Okehampton Fairtrade Group at the Community Lunch.

I then had the pleasure of presenting a cheque to the Okehampton Otters Swimming and Life Saving Club on Wednesday 4th March.  This local organisation has been running for many years and is very ably run by a team of volunteers.  When working with children, it is absolutely essential that those volunteers receive the appropriate training around Safeguarding so they can ensure the children who come along are properly looked after and this money was a grant towards the cost of the training.

On Thursday 5th March I attended the funeral of Mr Ray Vallance, a previous Mayor of Okehampton and a very well-respected resident of the town.  He was a great character who always had a twinkle in his eye and who got involved in lots of different organisations in the town.  He will be much missed by many and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this difficult time.

Friday 6th March saw our Annual Civic Dinner which raises funds for the Mayor's chosen Charity which, this year, is OkePADS.  The speaker was former Royal Marines Commando, Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Gray, who is taking part in "Challenge Antarctica".  His talk was very interesting and generated lots of questions.

On Sunday 8th March I was invited to the Lord Mayor of Plymouth's Civic Service followed by a tour of Lady Nancy Astor's house at 3 Elliott Terrace, Plymouth.  As I am sure may of you will know, she was the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons in December 1919 representing Plymouth Sutton and a bronze statue of Lady Astor was unveiled in Plymouth in 2019 - 100 years after she was first elected.

Monday 9th March was Commonwealth Day where I read out the Commonwealth Affirmation outside St James Chapel at 9.20 am.  It turned out that this would be my final official Civic duty as Town Mayor as in the evening I chaired the emergency committee which authorised plans to ensure the continual running of the Council and its services in response to the emerging COVID 19 pandemic.  Cancellations of invitations to events that I had been invited to attend started coming in with the closure of the Town Hall effective from 16th March and staff working from home.  On Monday 23rd March, the country went into lockdown.


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