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Chairman’s Report March 2023

The March meeting of the Town Council was preceded by the AGM of the Carnival Committee. Unfortunately, recently, there has been real uncertainty about the future of the Carnival.  Committee members were dwindling and there seemed to be a lack of support, generally, for new members.  I am pleased to report, however, that an open meeting arranged at The Walnut Tree, brought forth some interested parties and it has been possible to form a new committee, with all officers confirmed at the AGM, thus enabling the Carnival to go ahead this year.  I must thank everyone involved, past and present, willing to give their time to organise this annual event.

The Mere Rivers Group met on March 16th to hear a presentation by Wessex Water on The Progress of the Stream Support Project, which recycles local water to ensure our rivers do not run dry in the summer.  The meeting was well attended by Rivers Group members and representatives of the Town Council, the Environment Agency and the Duchy of Cornwall.  Stream Support for the Ashfield has been in place for over a year – enabled by the Duchy of Cornwall who facilitated the necessary pipework to convey water from the Mere borehole up to the source of the Ashfield, just to the north of the A303.  The recycled water has meant that the mill pond did not run dry through the summer.  Now that it has proved a success, work will begin to do the same for the Shreen- aiming to be in place by 2024.

I reported last month that the refurbishment of the Play Park next to The Walnut Tree was due to commence next month.  On the back of this, our Project Co-ordinator contacted the school and they agreed to organise a competition, where the children were asked to draw a playground, with the winning picture to be put on a sign for the park. There were many excellent entries, which were judged by local children’s author Kathryn Lamb. Congratulations to the winner Liberty Raynes in Year 4.  The picture and sign will be unveiled when the park is officially re-opened in May.

As you know, the Town Council has signed into an Environment Stewardship Scheme for Castle Hill & Long Hill which has been very successful, largely due to the goat grazing on the hills.  I can report that there has very recently been a change of goat ownership and the day-to-day management of the goats on the hills will now be undertaken by Neil Maitland and I am sure that Neil will be posting some information about this in due course.  In the meantime, Stephen Horn, our previous goat farmer, has written to the Council asking us to pass on his appreciation to all members of the public that have offered assistance with the goats and communicated with him to pass on information as to their frolics and antics.

Also, last month, I informed you that it was necessary for me to authorise the closing of the public toilets in the Salisbury Street Car Park between dusk and dawn, due to the abuse and vandalism of this amenity.  This was to be for a trial period and has been successful in reducing the vandalism.  The longer term opening times of the toilets will be on the agenda for discussion at the next Town Council meeting.

The grass cutting season is upon us and as you can imagine this takes up a lot of the groundsmen’s time over the Spring and Summer months.  Every year the Council has to review the condition and serviceability of our machinery. Inevitably, even with regular servicing and maintenance, machines come to the end of the road and have to be replaced.  This year it was necessary to buy a tractor and we are currently appraising the need for new mowing machinery.

Now that the events season will soon be with us, we expect to see lots of advertising posters on posts throughout the town, proving what a vibrant place Mere is.  While we are happy to support anyone who needs to advertise, can we please remind whoever puts up a poster that they are responsible for taking them down once the date has passed.  Anyone should feel free to remove a tatty poster.

There will be a Coronation Service at St. Michael’s Church on May 7th at 11am. The Town Council has ordered bunting and flags to erect in the town for the Coronation weekend.

I hope to see you  at the Annual Town Meeting at the URC on April 26th, starting at 7pm.