US 'president' meets Sidmouth town clerk

TWO council clerks, with a lot in common, have been forging links between Sidmouth and the city of Savannah in Georgia, USA.

TWO council clerks, with a lot in common, have been forging links between Sidmouth and the city of Savannah in Georgia, USA.

Sidmouth town clerk Trina Jarrett, inaugurated as president of the Society of Local Council Clerks last year, and her counterpart Dyanne Reese, from the US, who is nearing completion of her term as president of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, took a stroll along Sidmouth seafront on Thursday.

Seeing the opportunity to welcome Dyanne, and husband Benjamin, to Sidmouth during their brief visit to the UK - first in Scotland and then to Southampton - Trina invited the clerk; who heads the IIMC's 10,300 members, to a stopover before flying back home.

Now the two, with support from Mark Seward, president of Sidmouth & District Hospitality Association, who hosted lunch at Dukes, hope to forge tourism links between town and city and, says Dyanne: "I would certainly like to come back to Sidmouth for a holiday."

While both clerks, in their presidential roles, are spending their term of office visiting and talking to members of their respective organisations, Dyanne has had a gruelling year trying to visit each US state and some of the 13 countries affiliated to the IIMC.

Her term of office, which ends in Chicago in May, is part of seven years service to the board, three as "a regular director" of the institute and a year as vice-president.

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"In Chicago I will become immediate past president," said Dyanne, 59, who has coped with recovering from major back surgery while setting the goals and objectives of the Institute.

She was lucky enough to be at President Barak Obama's inauguration ceremony and said of the new president: "The US is very excited about the president and the prospect of recovery and international reconciliation, and has a lot of hope in his administration and leadership."

While in Scotland she addressed the SOLAR conference about democracy and elections. She then met members of the Southampton affiliation to IIMC.

Her offices at Rancho Cucamonga, California, may be vast compared to Woolcombe House, but as Institute president, Dyanne's role is similar to that of Trina's as president of the SLCC.

"I have served four mayors and 40 city council members and you must be impartial," said Dyanne, who has a staff of 11. She said it was important not to be drawn into politics as a clerk.

Trina, who will have served 20 years as Sidmouth's town clerk this year, added: "We also ensure that clerks throughout the country, whether small parishes or large towns, have equal footing and standing with what council they work for."

Whereas Dyanne takes "business leave" for her presidential work, Trina is using her own time, mostly weekends, to visit SLCC clerks as far away as Yorkshire, Essex, Lincolnshire and Berkshire.

Sidmouth Town Council has allowed her an extra 12 days to carry out her role, which is totally funded by the Society.

She said: "I gave a commitment to go to every regional conference. I was in Berks last Tuesday addressing 200 clerks and councillors. It is a good way to get to them and tell them about the society and Sidmouth."

Wherever she goes, so too does the council-produced Sidmouth Town Guide.

"When I go around I am asked to give a presentation and I talk about local government precepts and how they are raised, then show them other ways of raising revenue by doing things like the holiday guide," she said.

While still to visit the Isle of Wight and Wales, Trina is looking forward to the IIMC conference in Chicago in May, which Dyanne will host.

"I will be so proud in the flag ceremony getting to carry the Union Jack.