Coleford Town Council

Coleford Town Council Clocktower

Welcome to the Historic Market Town of Coleford with its Clock Tower. This is a focus for many occasions throughout the year, ranging from the Carnival of Transport, Sealed Knot through to the Festival of Words and Christmas Lights Switch-On.

Coleford is a centre point to attract visitors to the Forest of Dean with emphasis on Local History and walking and cycling routes passing through the Town.

Mayors Annual Report 2013 / 2014

Once again it is a great pleasure to be able to give the Annual Report on behalf of Coleford Town Council for 2013/2014 in this my last year as Mayor. It has proved to be an incredibly busy year for Coleford Town Council.

The Neighbourhood Development Plan for Coleford has now been launched, my thanks go to those within the community who have volunteered to be part of the NDP Steering Group giving up their free time to meet regularly, produce documentation and literature, set up recent consultations around the area, talking with others to ensure that the NDP is truly reflective of all walks of life within Coleford.

Volunteers have consistently stepped up to the challenges which we face in trying to provide services or activities within the parish, the NDP being just one of them, take for instance the Citizens Advice Bureau, without their continued support countless people would be without the help and advice that is needed around the constantly changing world that is the benefits system.

Areas of this community would at times be unable to feed themselves or their families if the Food Bank were not available to them at times of extreme poverty and crisis. We continue to support the Food Bank with a food donation point within the Town Council offices.

We rely on the goodwill of volunteers to organise and run events within the town such as the Carnival of Transport, Festival of Words, Christmas Lights and the Annual Sealed Knot Remembrance Event which now attracts an ever growing audience hungry to understand a history which is now no longer taught in our schools. Without these selfless people some of the best attended events would not get off of the ground, let alone be the runaway success which they have become.

The Busking Festival continues to grow and is now accepted as an annual event within the Town Council calendar, giving local musicians an ability to perform to an appreciative audience in the middle of town. Coleford Town centre lends itself perfectly to an event of this nature, and we very much hope to see a return of the Coleford Music Festival in the very near future.

This year we supported a new event, entering into partnership with local hoteliers the Town Council provided both practical and financial assistance to the first ever Forest Activities Event, this was held on the Speech House field, it showcased the amazing range of outdoor and indoor companies providing leisure facilities to both those that live in and visit the Forest, it was without doubt a roaring success with many thousands attending. Promoting both Coleford and the wider area is as important as it has ever been, unless we can encourage people to stay and use local services we will always be at risk from the corridor effect of visitors moving through but not staying and contributing to the local economy.

Local business continues to struggle, as we predicted in previous annual reports we have seen the closure of established family retailers within Coleford, be it due to the economic situation nationally, internet shopping or as many believe the car parking charges, our fear of towns becoming dormant is now sadly becoming a harsh reality.

We continue to work with the local Traders Association, facilitating meetings within our Council Chamber, making ourselves available to attend and listen in order to support and assist in any way we can to keep independent shops trading in these difficult times.

This year saw the community divided over a planning application made on behalf of Tesco to have a store within the town, the Council listened carefully to both the supporters of and those opposed to this application, after careful deliberation and noting that the building would bring with it desperately needed free car parking spaces, Councillors voted to support the application. The building for this store has now begun, and whilst we appreciate the fears of some around the ability of existing retailers to compete with Tesco, the population of Coleford has and will continue to grow with the advent of Angel Vale, Bank Street and Owen Farm developments being completed within the next twelve months. A growing community has diverse needs, better that we try to address these needs within the town, rather than see the footfall transfer to areas adjacent to Coleford.

We remain committed to having our voice heard on all statutory and non-statutory service forums, raising concerns over an increased population and the ability to keep parishioners safe and well. Policing, Health and Education remain at the top of our agenda, we will continue to strive on behalf of the residents of Coleford to ensure that they are never disadvantaged in accessing health and clinical services in comparison to those living in other parts of Gloucestershire.

During the course of the last year I have continued to work alongside my colleagues in other Forest towns as well as being invited to attend events organised by Monmouthshire Civic Leaders, giving me the opportunity to visit Usk, Caldicot, Monmouth and Chepstow, with both Ledbury and Ross-on Wye also willing to work with and share ideas on the sustainability of our communities. Coleford is recognised for being a go ahead Council, willing to see the importance of working with others, sharing experience and ideas.

We continue to be singularly the largest awarder of grant’s within the Forest Town Councils, enabling many groups to continue to deliver services and activities to and on behalf of the community.

The Council has recently brought an open space from Gloucestershire County Council, known locally as Bells Field, this space will not be available for housing development either now or in the future, we are currently in the process like to see being developed into this community space and look forward to it being an important addition and asset to the population of Coleford.

Other additions to the town this year have included the introduction of the Rainbow Benches, so far we have three in situ, they have proved to be a bright and colourful alternative to standard models and a positive response has been received with pleas for more to be placed around and about!

A large project in the Town Centre has commenced which will see a mural entitled “Men of Iron and Steel” painted to acknowledge the importance of the Mushet family within Coleford, I am sure it will prove to be a conversation piece for many years to come and look forward to the completion of this splendid piece of artwork.

Our iconic Clock Tower is due to undergo some much needed repair this year, the programme of works will be spread over a couple of years and will eventually compliment the recent works carried out on the Stone Cross.

We await the recent discussions between the Diocese and the Forest of Dean District Council for a solution to be found to enable the parish to have a church within the town once again, the community very much miss St Johns Church, it held a presence in statue and history on the Coleford landscape, as well as offering a safe gathering place to those in need, it was where Coleford people got married, christened their children and life was celebrated.

This year we have said goodbye to the following people who have all played a part in Coleford life  Dave Short, Bill Whiffin , Frank Baynham, Coleford District Councillor, Desiree Rawlings past Coleford Town Councillor, Dora Matthews, Dr Charlie’s Lunch Club, all of these people have given of themselves for their community.

We welcomed a new Councillor Nicky Holloway as Councillor Jeff Reynolds stepped down.

In addition to attending statutory meetings throughout the year I have had the privilege of representing Coleford Town Council at sixty civic events, including more recently having had the pleasure of being introduced to HRH Prince Edward on the Royal tour of the Forest of Dean.

As always many thanks to the Clerk and Assistant Clerk for the commitment and hard work they have given throughout the year on behalf of the Council. To the Councillors for attending the many meetings scheduled and attendance at the events and activities in wind, rain, snow and sometimes if we are lucky warm sun, we must never forget we are one team working with one goal to make Coleford the best it can possibly be, now and in the future.

All of my gratitude to Cllr Paul Kay for his hard work, commitment and sense of humour particularly around the organisation of the first ever Coleford Town Council Charity Dinner, held at Bells Hotel and Golf Course, the evening was attended by 100 people including Civic Leaders, Traders, Sealed Knot members and other local organisations, it was a great successes, raising £1500 for Young Carer’s Gloucestershire my thanks also go to Mrs Kay for her help in making the evening so special.

As in previous years I would sincerely like to acknowledge the help and support that both my husband Roy and daughter Ella have given me in carrying out the Mayoral duties, not just for the last year but over the past six years. Without you both, none of this would have ever been possible.

Lastly to the Council, for the faith and support that you have consistently shown to me over the past six years, I will never be able to put into words how honoured I have been to serve as your Mayor, thank you all for the opportunity to have had the privilege do this on behalf of Coleford Town Council.