At the end of last week, the new Mayor for Devizes was officially elected into office by a unanimous vote of his fellow Councillors. Council John Stevens CBE is no stranger to the workings of local authorities, starting his Councillor career in Swindon in the 1960s and becoming Mayor of Swindon Borough Council in the 1970s. On retirement, Councillor Stevens and his wife Mary moved to Devizes and Johns was keen to involve himself in the local community and therefore joined what was then Roundway parish council. When Roundway became part of Devizes, Councillor Stevens was elected to Devizes Town Council as he was keen to continue the work he had started and felt he could make a difference at Devizes Town Council. During his acceptance speech, he expressed his strong desire to ensure that as the town council, we support the whole community, but also encourage more people to get in involved with the council. He recognises that time will be coming shortly for him to pass on the baton of responsibility for our town to a younger generation and as such, we need to empower those who feel that they can make a difference to come forward.
Young people also featured strongly in the mayor’s acceptance of office speech and in particular, those young people who feel that those in positions of responsibility have turned their back on them, whether it be through cuts to youth services or just a sense that they are ambivalent to what young people do. Whatever the reason why so many young people feel disenfranchised, change is needed and therefore, Devizes Town Council has teamed up with 4Youth, a youth outreach services provider based in Melksham to start empowering our young residents. With the new project, 4youth will provide youth workers in the town, two nights a week, to support young people, talk about acceptable behaviour and give advice on matters in a non-judgmental way on issues that are worrying them. The goal of the programme is to work towards developing some form of dedicated youth-based space, which will support their needs and where they will feel safe and welcome. We are currently working on the details of the programme, with the hope that locally based youth workers will be out in our town by the summer holidays.
Earlier today, Hillworth Park was inspected by a Green Flag judge and I along with the Parks and Open Spaces Manager and our Community Engagement Manager met with him to talk about the commitment to the upkeep of the park and how we deliver a range of community events that visitor can enjoy. Like the Blue Flag for beaches, The Green Flag award is a benchmark setting at an international standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom and around the world. As the town council, we are committed to providing well-managed open spaces and parks, where we endeavour to balance the needs of the community with promoting biodiversity and open access. From the meeting, it seemed that the judge was pleased with what he saw and we can now only hope that we have gained our 10th successive Green Flag award.
Devizes International Street Festival takes place next weekend in Devizes, and we are pleased that we are able to support DOCA to do this. Devizes rich cultural programme of events, whether it be cultural, food-based or focusing on our history and this is what sets the town apart from many other local towns. To support these events each year the Town Council provides financial grant funding and with the budget this year set aside over £25,000, free use of council facilities, and in-kind support through our staffing and equipment. All we hope for now is a lovely summer, that will ensure we can all enjoy the events.
Town Clerk, Simon Fisher