At the Annual Meeting in May of Trowbridge Town Council, the first in over a year that was attended by councillors in person at The Civic, Councillor Stewart Palmen (Central Ward) was once again elected as Leader of the Council. Here is his acceptance speech, which reflects on the May town council elections, and looks ahead to the next four years for the County Town . . .
“Thank you for re-electing me as leader, and I hope that everyone will agree that it is great to be here in person, rather than being at home and connected via the internet. First, I would like to propose a vote of thanks to those Town Councillors who stood in this election, yet were not re-elected: Peter Fuller, who it was hoped would be our mayor again, Tom Bazan, Geoff Whiffen and Dennis Drewett.
“Regarding the election, I am pleased we had 42 candidates for the 21 seats on the Town Council. This shows that democracy is working well in Trowbridge, as some other towns and parishes fail to get sufficient candidates to even fill all the positions and so offer their voters very little real choice.
“Also, of those candidates who were successful we have now have six female councillors (four more than served on the Town Council between 2017 and 2021), however we obviously still have a long way to go to achieve equality. These are among seven newly-elected councillors who have not held this office before, and I think that will really help to bring in fresh perspectives. During the various election campaigns, I think all those who were successful really got to know their wards and residents through showing themselves to be proactive, and now will be able to continue to serve their respective wards and residents to the best of their abilities. I think I can safely say that we can all now come together to do our best for the Town.
“Over the next four years, the Town Council will follow a programme to make Trowbridge a County Town to be proud of. We will make the town greener, more active and vibrant. How will we achieve this?”
- We will make Trowbridge a Greener Town by taking over the green spaces currently managed by Wiltshire Council. We will lend our support to communities to improve the Down Cemetery, Biss Meadows, Paxcroft Brook and other areas. We will support the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as they seek to refurbish the Park Pond and establish new areas at Castle Mead and Ashton Park. We will achieve Zero Carbon Council status by 2030, constantly striving to improve the town’s environment. We will take over the role from Wiltshire Council of keeping the town clean, and also take over the management of litter and dog waste bins.
- We will make Trowbridge a more Active Town by reopening the Civic for weddings, parties and concerts, and reestablishing its reputation as one of the finest venues in the South-West. We will promote our residents’ wellbeing by providing hard courts and all-weather sports facilities at the new Doric Park facility, as well as at Studley Green, Grove, Seymour and Longfield. We will campaign for Wiltshire Council to provide the promised new leisure centre, complete with a brand new swimming pool. We will run well-maintained play areas for young people across town. We will reopen the newly-refurbished Trowbridge Museum to show off the town’s heritage, increasing weekend opening hours. We will provide affordable holiday activities for young people and continue to support the work of Active Trowbridge across the town.
- We will make Trowbridge a more vibrant town by supporting the projects associated with the successful Future High Streets Fund bid, which include refurbishment works to the Town Hall and the old Market Hall. We will offer low-cost office space for new business start-ups in the Civic Centre. We will work with the Chamber of Commerce and other town groups to help more businesses to open and thrive in Trowbridge, while also working to attract inward investment. We will continue to support pop-up markets such as The Weavers Market and the Innox Market. We will further exert pressure on Wiltshire Council to get the remaining brownfield sites in the town used for housing before green fields are used, for instance the old Bowyers site.
“There are also plans to initiate two working groups: one to look into the issue of antisocial behaviour in the park (and other areas of the town), and one to look at how we can help revive the town centre post- pandemic.
“We are also constantly mindful of the issue of the absence of public toilets in the park, which remains a priority: there are plans to address this in the interim by allowing external access to toilets within in the Civic Centre, this to be followed by a permanent and long-term solution.
“This list of points is not exhaustive, but hopefully gives an indication of the intended way forward for the town of Trowbridge and its residents and businesses.
“In the very near future, we will hold a Town Council Strategy review involving all councillors and supporting any and all good ideas that are put forward. Additionally, I also encourage all councillors to use the Town Council’s committee structure to help turn their ideas into action rather than motions at meetings of Full Council: I am looking forward to leading the council through these exciting times with your help.”
Cllr Stewart Palmen, Leader, Trowbridge Town Council.