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Chairman’s Report January 2023

As we embark on 2023, I wish you all a better year ahead.  The weather has already made a harsh statement with copious rainfall as well as being very cold.  The Council is not aware of any domestic flooding but we have had some drain blockage, which we have reported to Wiltshire Council

I have today spoken to our library.  The library is a designated Warm Hub, where everyone is welcome.  The staff were eager to point out that visitors are not expected to sit and read a book and keep quiet.  There are puzzles, games and magazines and conversation is encouraged.  There is no restriction on how long you stay.  Also available is a free Warm Pack consisting of a blanket, hot water bottle and thermal cup.  The library is open on Monday 10am -7pm, Tuesday 9-30am -5pm, Wednesday 10am-2pm, Thursday 9-30am-5pm, Friday. 9-30am -5pm and Saturday 9-30am-1pm.  Please use this excellent warm facility.

The end of the year is a particularly busy time for the Council. Our Clerk prepared all the necessary facts and figures for our interim internal audit and I am pleased to say that an independent internal auditor was satisfied with the result.  Also, in November, we held our annual Budget setting meeting.  This is always a challenge and especially this year with such rising costs.  After much analysis we agreed on a 6.5% increase on our precept. This equates to an annual rise of £9 on a Band D property.  In order to do this, we had to resort to using some of our reserves.  We are aware that other local councils have applied far larger increases but for this year, at least, we have managed to keep it down. The Council has since approved the Budget recommendations.

At the January meeting we considered a planning application (no.PL/2022/09365) for the siting of a new factory with associated offices, car parking, access and landscaping on the site adjacent to the Quarryfield Industrial Estate. The applicant is Godminster, the cheese manufacturer.  Mere Town Council recommended approval of this planning application but the site is actually within the parish of Zeals and Zeals Parish Council will also be submitting a consultation response to the Planning Authority.

I must thank Cllr. John Jordan, who has applied for funding from the Wiltshire Town’s Programme which can be used to attract more visitors to Mere.  If successful, we hope to use some of the funding to provide wider internet information about Mere and enhance the Red Arrows Trail as well as amenities for visitors.  Some funding may be offered to groups to attract more participants to events which they have planned. Groups will be contacted, with information, once the funding has been approved.

As you may have heard the Palace has issued its official agenda for the weekend of celebrations for the Coronation of King Charles.  The Coronation ceremony will be at Westminster Abbey on May 6th.  On Sunday May 7th there is to be a concert at Windsor Castle and also on the 7th, A Coronation Big Lunch of street parties up and down the country.  It will be followed on Monday 8th, the Bank Holiday, by the Big Help Out, a volunteer scheme devised in tribute to His Majesty’s many decades of public service.  People will be encouraged to join volunteer projects, dedicating a few hours to help create a coronation legacy.

Mere Town Council is asking for volunteers to form a working group to organise Mere’s Celebrations.  Anybody interested, please contact the office (01747 860701).

I am pleased to inform you that we have a new PCSO- Neil Turnbull.  Neil will also cover the Tisbury area and I understand that there are at least 28 or so Parish Councils in his patch.  He will try to attend some of our council meetings and hopefully we shall see him about town regularly.  In an emergency or to report a crime, please ring 101 or 999.

Congratulations to Pat & Geoff Sams, who this year won the trophy for an outstanding display of Christmas lights and decorations.

Lesley Traves