New town clerk appointed for Sidmouth

New challenge ahead for district’s deputy returning officer

A NEW town clerk has been appointed to succeed Trina Jarrett when she retires next spring.

Sidmothian Christopher Holland, well known as principal trombonist with Sidmouth Town Band, won’t have far to go for band practice when he begins his new role at Woolcombe House.

One of six shortlisted for the post of Sidmouth Town Council’s clerk, he is looking forward to his new challenge and says: “I am quite excited but there is still some trepidation. It is a matter of settling in and taking stock.

“I don’t want to change things for the sake of it. Sidmouth is a quality town council and we need to build on what they have got rather than take it apart.”

The 15 years Christopher, 36, from Peaslands Road, has worked for East Devon District Council, will put him in good stead, as will the six months he spent at the town council in 1993, helping Trina with administration.

Currently he works as a democratic services officer at EDDC, having progressed from junior assistant in the post room.

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“Of all the places to work in in the country, the Knowle, as a location, is incredible,” he said. “Fifteen years here is a long time and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

His delight at being appointed town clerk is “tinged with sadness” at leaving EDDC, where he has got to know so many colleagues. However, he knows his new role will keep him in touch with district officers.

“It will be nice not to sever links completely. The town council and district should be working in partnership, not be adversarial.”

What he will miss is his role as deputy returning officer during election time.

“The day-to-day running of a big election is very stressful. When you have a district-wide election, running 120 polling stations is a logistical nightmare, but we help each other out and feel we’ve achieved something.”

Christopher has been happy to remain in Sidmouth to forge a career in local government.

He said: “I am very lucky to live in East Devon. I go and see the sea every day and Sidmouth is the jewel in the crown.”

He will continue playing with the town band, but will relinquish his role as its chairman at its annual meeting next year.

In February he can be seen as Cut Throat the baddie pirate in Newton Poppleford’s panto Robinson Crusoe, and town councillor Graham Liverton will play the Dame.

Mrs Jarrett said: “I always considered it to be important that anyone taking on the role of town clerk for this beautiful town should love it as much as I have over the last 25 years and I believe that Chris will have that same affection.

“Although I shall be sad to leave my post in April, I do so in the knowledge that I am leaving Chris with a team of staff who are extremely efficient and dedicated and will offer him every assistance.”