Annual Report 2022-23 and Mayor’s Review of the Year

Annual Review of the Year 2022/23 – Councillor Andy Hall, Mayor of Whitchurch

I write the Annual Report this year as the elected Mayor of Whitchurch. I couldn’t be prouder to represent the town I was born, raised and adore.  I have found the years of gained knowledge, business experience, friendships and working with local partnerships an asset in this role.

This has been a very busy year for myself and Whitchurch Town council (WTC) in an ever-changing world.  This year we witnessed the loss of our beloved Queen Elizabeth ll as our longest serving monarch and, for many, the only one we’ve known.  I was privileged and honoured to represent the people of Whitchurch at events to mark her passing and celebrate her extraordinary life.

In last year’s Annual Report, I outlined the historic challenges faced by our council and the unrelenting resolve of our NEW Town Council to work and deliver a brighter and more prosperous times for our wonderful town.  My aim was to reach out to the local people demonstrating an open and transparent town council, promoting and embracing equality and diversity for all.  I said:

“the commitment of the new influx of forward-thinking Councillors, voted in by the people of Whitchurch in 2021, together with new professional staff members, will tackle these as we work tirelessly for a positive future for both the Council and Whitchurch”

Well, our new council have done just that!

As many are aware, retaining the driving centre in Whitchurch was a major priority of mine. I met with representatives from the DVSA and formulated a proposal to broker a deal for this service to be accommodated at the Whitchurch Civic Centre, this was unanimously agreed by full council.  After a long journey of negotiation and planning applications, I am pleased to report this will be operational soon.  I would like to thank our Proper Officer, Mike McDonald, the resolve of our local driving instructors, and the added support from our Shropshire Councillors and local MP.

This year WTC agreed to create three new positions in our all-new Grounds Maintenance team. These much-needed local jobs were made possible by restructuring our Parks and Public realm contracts and services. The contracted services are now being delivered by local companies providing better value for money. Improvements to areas such as Deermoss Park have been completed, revamping old and incorporating new all-inclusive play equipment.

As with many charitable organisations who struggled post-covid, the Beechtree Centre sadly closed this year.  However, WTC stepped in and has been successful in accommodating many of their groups and services to continue serving the Whitchurch people.

Inward Investment and Growth:

On a more positive note – like many of you, I’m delighted that the building work for the new Medical Centre at Pauls Moss & Swimming Pool at White Meadow is now underway with a total investment of £32.2 Million in our amazing town.  It’s been great to welcome many new shops and businesses who have opened in the town centre, too, including the old Woolworths store as an arcade.

In March 2023, we were delighted to host a visit from the now former High Sheriff of Shropshire Selina Graham. I had the pleasure of providing a tour of our awesome town.  Selina kindly made time to meet with a variety of local charities and community groups providing some excellent information, advice and guidance which has already proved invaluable to some. She commented:

“Whitchurch might come at the bottom of the alphabet, but it is certainly not at the bottom of the class when it comes to Community spirit! Although it is the oldest continuously inhabited town in Shropshire, it has some fabulous 21st century facilities … It also has an extraordinary number of dedicated voluntary groups and organisations.”

This Spring brought the opportunity to celebrate the Coronation of Charles III and the dawn of a ‘new age’ … in similar fashion, I believe that have heralded a new dawn in Whitchurch. Our beautiful town and the community working towards a common goal, and our focus for the coming year, #whitchurchstrongertogether

Very recently, I have had the opportunity to re-engage with our twin town, Neufchatel-en-Bray, rebuilding old relationships and forming new ones. As we head into the new Civic Year, I am still confident that Whitchurch Town Council and its new staffing structure will maintain the high standards demonstrated this year which the town’s people have found to be so refreshing and rightly now come to expect.