Another busy year in Ottery for its residents and Town Council.
The year started with a traffic measuring survey in January as part of the larger traffic study commissioned by the Council. This led to a well-attended public consultation at the Council Offices in April and a weighty document produced by consultants Callidus Transport and Engineering. This will feed into future decisions about improvements and developments to the public realm after a further public consultation with the residents and business owners, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council.
The Council ran a second shop front rejuvenation scheme to help shop owners improve their shop fronts. Several shops applied and a total of over £3000 was awarded. All those taking part commented how easy the process was and didn’t involve too much paperwork or time.
At the Council Offices weekly drop-in sessions for Citizens Advice are held every Tuesday and Highways Surgeries are held every other month with the Neighbourhood Highways Officer for the Eastern Neighbourhood Highways Team at Devon County Council regarding local highways.
May saw the Coronation of King Charles III. The town put out its finest bunting, flags and the shops created some wonderful window displays.
May also had the Local Council Elections with four new Councillors joining the Council. A new Mayor was elected, Cllr Richard Grainger along with the Deputy Mayor Cllr Dean Stewart.
The Council upgraded and updated their web presence and took on a Community Officer to ensure that the website, social media and news outlets are kept updated with what the Council is doing. The Council website can be found at www.otterystmary-tc.gov.uk where you will find a wealth of information.
During May we saw severe flooding at Tipton St John and the surrounding area. Members of the community worked alongside EDDC and DCC to help with the clear up afterwards. The Town Council are currently working on Emergency Planning which will be actioned when needed. There will also be a volunteer Community Response Team who will help coordinate and implement the plan.
In the Summer the Council put out the call for community volunteers to help with several Council sponsored projects. The first was for footpath guardian to monitor and report back on the status of the local footpaths. Road Wardens will be able to fill small potholes and maintain road edges. The Council also asked for someone to regularly check a newly installed defibrillator at the Scout Hut. As always, residents from the parish stood up and came forward to offer time and assistance.
In July, the SPACE Youth Club, funded by the Town Council, celebrated its first year. The youth club is free to attend and operates on Monday for Year 7 & 8 and Thursday for Year 9 to 19 years of age. The young people have access to a wide range of activities and special events like the very popular Gaming Arena during school holidays.
The Town Council has taken over and reopened the Skate Park after the Ottery and District Skate and BMX Trust was wound up. Repairs were carried out and the ramps were repainted. The Council has agreed to enter into a Preferred Tender agreement with Maverick, a specialist skatepark company, to work with them to improve and develop the current site. This is part of the Council’s ambition to make the skatepark more accessible, welcoming and a safe environment, whilst also improving the facilities to attract more users to the park. As part of this they are actively seeking people who use the site, or want to use the site, to get involved and have a voice on the future of the park.
The Headlight service in Ottery has recently received a significant grant from Ottery St Mary Town Council. Headlight is a peer support group that provides early intervention, non-clinical, support to young people with mental health concerns, such as anxiety, eating disorders, depression, self-harm, suicidal feelings, abuse, autism, ADD and ADHD. Headlight is provided by Action East Devon who operate out the Station Community Hub in Ottery.
The MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) in Strawberry Lane has been granted planning permission by East Devon District Council. This will go out to tender shortly and the Council hope to move forward with this project in 2024.
The Coast & Country Tourism project has continued to grow throughout the year. The project is supported by five East Devon towns – Ottery St Mary, Honiton, Budleigh Salterton, Seaton and Sidmouth who led the project. Together, they are developing a sustainable visitor road map to provide mindful options for accommodation, sightseeing and dining throughout the region, highlighting the many local businesses leading the way in making planet-friendly changes. The project aims to support a connected tourist economy that is sustainable, inclusive and accessible for all, where the benefits of tourism and actively caring for our unique natural environment are felt by residents and visitors alike. Please do visit the Visit Ottery website for further information.
The old phone box in Spring Gardens, Ottery, badly needs refurbishment and we asked what residents wanted to do. Overwhelmingly they want to keep the phone box as a book share and have it repainted. This should take place in 2024 and we will be putting out a request to help once box has been made ready to repaint.
Throughout the year the Council encourages local organisations to apply for grants. These schemes meant that in the last financial year the Council has reinvested over £25,000 back into the town through the groups and organisations. These groups have continued to make a difference and provide great services and entertainment to the residents. Details of how to apply for a Community Grant can be found on the Council website.
The Town Council have an allotment site which is well occupied by over 100 parishioners. There is a waiting list and any landowners who have a piece of land available for a second allotment site please do get in touch.
At the end November we had the Festive Cheer event in the town. This coincided with Church’s Christmas Tree Festival and as well as singing and music played, we had the official lights switch on by the Carnival Royalty. There was late night shopping and overall, a very well attended, enjoyable evening.
The end of the year saw public Emergency Plan community outreach meetings allowing members of the public to hear about the plan designed to bridge the gap between the public and emergency services. The team are looking for more local volunteers to come forward to help contribute to the plan and be contacts who will help carry it out should an emergency occur.
The Town Council operates from its offices at the Old Convent Building in Broad Street, with assistance from the Town Clerk, Administrator and newly appointed Community Officer. The Town Council offices are open from 10am until 1pm, Monday to Friday, to members of the public. If you do need to contact the Council, please email email@example.com or call 01404 812252.