Annual Report 2023-24 and Mayor’s Review of the Year

Annual Review of the Year 2023-24 – Councillor Andy Hall, Mayor of Whitchurch

As I have approached the end of my second year as Mayor and Chairman, I’m delighted to say that feedback I have received recently, throughout the County and beyond, is that Whitchurch Town Council is now considered as being a particularly progressive, confident, and forward-thinking Council. This is exactly what we set out to achieve as your “new” Council a few short years ago.

This has only been achieved through a deliberate and unrelenting resolve for the Council to work together, as a united team, to meet the needs of our Community in an open and transparent way. This ‘united’ approach, of course, includes both our Councillors and the Staff Team, whose resilience throughout the challenges we have faced this year rightly deserves recognition. My personal thanks go to our Proper Officer, Mike McDonald, for his tireless work alongside providing the Council with crucial advice and guidance throughout this period. Without his drive and passion for our Town, many of our accomplishments would not have happened. 

In May 2023 we marked the beginning of a new ‘age’ with events to celebrate the Coronation of King Chales III … and just a few weeks later received devastating news that our ‘home’ was to be closed due to the discovery of RAAC concrete throughout the Civic Centre building. This decision was made by our Corporate Landlord, and owner of the Civic Centre complex, Shropshire Council. Since then, we have striven to retain as many services as possible in the Sports / Market Hall, including the weekly Friday Market – however, many community groups were forced to relocate elsewhere to continue to deliver their services etc.

Following the news in September 2023, Whitchurch Town Council has pushed for our community to be engaged in creating a solution to this ‘crisis’ and I’m particularly pleased that our call for full public consultation was recently recognised by Shropshire Council and we remain very much ‘at the table’ in a Working Group to assess the current and future needs of our community against 6 distinct options for the future of the Civic Centre complex. Elsewhere, we have ourselves recognised our community’s needs; this has played an important and ongoing part in our decision to relocate to the Old Police Station in Station Road, which will act as our new Town Hall & Community Hub from May 2024.

The unique character of our Town, as demonstrated by many of our community groups and events, cannot go without mention too. We may face setbacks, but we face them ‘head on’ and rise again – stronger than ever and, more importantly, together. This was particularly mentioned by the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Mandy Thorn MBE DL, when she visited the town in October last year. It is what we call #whitchurchstrongertogether!

Looking ahead, I’m also pleased to see that inward investment and growth continues with the soon to open Medical Centre at Pauls Moss, and the new Swimming Pool & Leisure Centre finally in construction.

It’s true to say that you only miss something when you no longer have it … Whitchurch has much to be proud of – its heritage, its spirit, its future as a growing town and, of course, its character. A unique combination and a unique place to live and work – and we have no intention to lose anything that makes Whitchurch such a special place to be. So, out of our current ‘crisis’ we will, of course, emerge – re-energised and stronger than ever in what I believe to be our very own new ‘age’.

In May 2024 we celebrate 50 years as a Town Council, with a history going back to 1860 as a Local Board for Whitchurch and Dodington. We accept the weight of responsibility we have to our forebears and resolve to make them proud … we will fight for what we believe is rightly ours to prosper as a community with the facilities and services to make that a reality.

YOU CAN READ OUR ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2023-24 HERE: Annual Report 2023-2024