It has been a privilege for me to serve the community for a second time as Mayor and a real pleasure to get out and about around the parish to all kinds of wonderful community events where I have made dozens of new friends.
Our towns of Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge have been busy places this year with all kinds of great activities underway and groups working hard to support the community.
We have enthusiastically joined the national challenge of trying to cut down on the use of plastic and to remove as much litter as possible from our beaches. The Town Council has worked with Litter Free Coast and Sea Somerset to raise awareness through their Business Award Scheme. We also organised the screening of the film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ at the Princess Theatre and were very pleased to see a good turnout of local residents who were concerned about the issues. The Town Council is leading by example and has changed many of the products used both in our offices in Jaycroft Road and in the Princess Theatre. Our Remembrance Wreath this year was made of willow with knitted poppies and Christmas tree decorations were non-plastic. We have worked with local traders and community groups and have now completed all the steps to apply to become a Plastic Free Community. We look forward to announcing confirmation of this soon.
My mayoral theme this year is ‘Clean and Safe Beaches’ and I am keen to support the charities which are helping with this work both by organising beach cleans and also in terms of safety: BARB and RNLI do a fantastic job in making sure that any residents or visitors who get into trouble are brought back to safety. These groups featured in our Civic Service this year and I look forward to hosting a fundraising event for them in February.
Through our council grants fund, we have managed to help a considerable number of local groups to ensure that they continue to provide services for many important sectors of our community including young people, those with mental health problems and sports clubs.
One of the greatest successes of the year has been the grant which was awarded to us by the Hinkley fund for £350,000 for the Burnham Evolution Project. This means that we will be able to totally refurbish the Princess Theatre next year so that it is a more inviting and modern space. We will also improve the facilities along the Esplanade and make the area much more pleasant and interesting.
Next year will also see changes for the Town Council as this electoral term comes to an end in May. No doubt there will be some new faces around the table. We need local residents to represent local needs and make the right decisions for our community. I strongly encourage anyone who has the time to offer their services and stand for election. Once again my heartfelt thanks go to Rev Sharon Crossman, the Mayor’s Chaplain for her unfailing help and guidance, as well as the Mayor’s Cadet Evie Milburn who has accompanied me to key civic events along with our hearty Town Crier, Alastair Murray.
My Deputy Mayors Peter Clayton and Andy Brewer have continued to provide fantastic support and have willingly represented the council at those functions which I was not able to attend. I’d also like to thank the team in the council office who keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes and make my life much easier. We will soon be saying a fond farewell to Tatiana who has stood by my side during my time as Mayor and we look forward to welcoming Sam Winter, our new Town Clerk just after Christmas.Thank you so much to everyone who has been so kind to me and my wife Frances. It has been such a joy to serve this great community again this year. We look forward to next year with excitement. I am delighted to send warm wishes to everyone in Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge for a fun Christmas and healthy, happy and peaceful New Year.