The summer is well and truly behind us now and autumn has set in, although as I write, we are enjoying an Indian summer.
September started with a very worthwhile meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses. Our small businesses are exceptionally important to North Devon, as we have hundreds of businesses that help our economy and add value to our area. Our council will help wherever it is practical to do so.
At the very end of August we met with the District Leaders of Devon and Somerset and we agreed to work together to form the Heart of the South West. This was followed by an agreement and a letter to the Minister of Local Government, Gregg Clarke MP, to give notice that we would like to form a combined authority. The objective of this is to obtain more influence for our area to help with the regeneration and economy for the South West. We are now awaiting the response from the minister.
As a council we are reviewing our priorities so that we can set the scene for the future here in North Devon. There are a lot of issues with little funding available. However, we intend to do our best with the resources we have.
Our local fair in Barnstaple has come and gone, as has the carnival once again. It was good to be able to have the fair here and to continue with hundreds of years of tradition.
I was privileged to be asked to a farewell gathering at Chivenor to say goodbye and thanks to A Flight 22 Squadron who operate the yellow Sea King helicopter. It is sad to see them go. I wish every success to both serving members of the Royal Air Force and their civilian counterparts.
We have a new Town Centre Manager for Barnstaple who is exceptionally enthusiastic and will, I am sure, do a first-class job. She is busy now trying to arrange Christmas with the local traders. This is no easy task because there is very little funding. However, my colleagues and I wish Hannah well in the new post.
During the last month I have also had meetings with South Molton Town Council and with Ilfracombe Regeneration Board, both with some positive outcomes and more of that at a later date.
While I have been at several meetings over the period, I have also singled out the meeting with North Devon Theatres Trust, which runs the theatres on our behalf. We meet bi-monthly to discuss any issues, with most focusing on the buildings, which require a considerable amount of maintenance.
I also meet with the Pannier Market traders, looking at ways to help improve the market. One will no doubt understand that this is a very important market and an historic building that we need to ensure is preserved in the appropriate way. Once again, the building is old and needs a lot of TLC, so I will continue to look at this.