Sidmouth Town Council chairman reflects on the work of 2019 and ahead to 2020

Cllr Ian Barlow, chair of Sidmouth Town Council. Picture: Clarissa Place

Cllr Ian Barlow, chair of Sidmouth Town Council. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Archant

The chair of Sidmouth Town Council reflects on 2019.

As chair of Sidmouth Town Council, I would like to remind everyone of the many things Sidmouth Town Council has been working on in 2019.

With local government elections held in May, residents elected nine new councillors, bringing new faces and different skills to the council and I was elected as chair of the council.

After almost three years of hard work and public involvement and finally a referendum, the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan was adopted as a planning document on November 7, which will help to protect and conserve the environment and character of the Sid Valley.

It has also given us invaluable information from residents on their priorities for the valley in the coming years which we are working to include in our future policies.

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In 2019, we have commented on nearly 300 planning applications and 50 tree applications.

One of the priorities highlighted during the consultations on the Neighbourhood Plan from the young people was a new skatepark at Manstone Recreation Field which, after various consultations involving the youth centre, schools, users and residents, is nearing reality.

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We have financed a youth wellbeing practitioner as well as continuing to operate the youth centre through our contractor Young Devon.

Working with local contractors, Sidmouth Town Council has continued and expanded the work of verge cutting for Devon County Council highways now including extra weeding.

It has established a new environment committee, collaboratively working with other community groups to improve the built and natural environment with such schemes as tree planting, new bins and specific signage encouraging recycling and beach cleaning.

As part of a review of Tourism Promotion, Sidmouth Town Council started the adoption of a fresh new Visit Sidmouth brand to help reinvigorate the promotion of Sidmouth both online and in the official printed town guide.

With the Red Arrows overseas, the council held a successful air display in August, attracting more than 25,000 people to the town ahead of the Sailing Club's Regatta.

The council continued to run a successful Hopper Bus, transporting more than 10,000 local people and visitors as a sustainable travel option during the summer months to bring people into Sidmouth town centre.

In 2019, Sidmouth Town Council gave out grants to more than 20 local organisations totally nearly £16,000 and continues to provide significant support to Sidmouth Folk Festival.

We continue to work with a host of festival and event organisers to ensure Sidmouth and the Sid Valley continues to develop a very vibrant annual calendar of events for residents and visitors.

Along with the Christmas tree generously donated by King's Garden Centre, the council has once again provided the Christmas illuminations and decorations over the town.

I hope that all residents will join us in 2020 in contributing to our community either personally or through a local club and society. I invite anyone to hear more about the work of the council at any of our council meetings and at our annual meeting in April. In the meantime, I wish you all a very healthy and happy new year.

Ian Barlow, chair of Sidmouth Town Council

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