None of us could possibly have predicted at the beginning of last year what we were in store for or also predict the immense challenges we would face in our community, Cornwall, the UK and the world.
I have been incredibly proud and humbled to have been mayor of such a wonderful community and chairman of a council that puts Looe at the heart of what it does, now and in the future.
Although it has been such an incredibly difficult and challenging year in so many ways with great sadness for our losses to the incredible way our community once again came together to help each other. I cannot thank everyone enough for their resilience, public spirit, kindness and consideration of others.
In such a short time we became one of the best organised volunteering networks with over 150 volunteers helping our local community. Looe’s response was so incredible that we are now recognised as leading the way for others and lessons learnt here are helping and supporting many other communities across Cornwall. Our help and befriending lines were very successful and from March to October our volunteer network took over 1340 calls on the helplines, delivered over 340 prescriptions and helped around 310 vulnerable people with a range of essential services. This has nearly doubled now.
I would like to give a special thank you to the small group of volunteers who coordinated our volunteer response in particular to Cllr Simon Barker who and coordinated our volunteer response and also to Cllr Michala Powel whose IT skills created our volunteer data bases.
Looe Community cupboard, which is still running, is again a significant collaboration led by the Council and I would like to thank everyone that help set it up and still are making donations, in particular Cllr Edwina Hannaford, East Looe Town Trust who donated the new cupboard and Looe Development Trust who manage all the finances.
Looe hardship fund, with the Council in collaboration with Looe Development Trust and the Rusty Bucket together with our two Cornwall Councillors, has supported many families and individuals throughout the Town and I hope that this fund will continue to support many others in their moment of need.
Looe library was the only library in Cornwall to maintain a service during full lockdown, operating a click and deliver service, again dependent on volunteers for delivering books. We have received many messages thanking us for this service which our residents, in particular in care homes and in rural areas, keep minds active. Looe Library was also the first Library in Cornwall to offer online live activities such as rhyme time and coffee mornings which has now been adopted by many other Cornish libraries.
Volunteers have been essential to our response to COVID and my thanks go to each and every one of them for their selfless response to the need of others.
Volunteers also supported the Town Council in spraying the streets and in maintaining our communication with messages of encouragement and hope.
In order to keep our streets safe we also employed street marshals to help limit the number of vehicles using Fore Street. They helped to prevent approximately 100 vehicles a day from using Fore Street by guiding them and giving advice.
We were delighted to receive two letters from the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel Edward Bolitho, in October. The first was to congratulate our volunteers and coordinators and the second to congratulate the Council on the support and organisation of the group.
We are now looking at how we can continue to help our town stay safe, particularly when lockdown ends and visitors arrive. We have already employed marshals again.
My sincere thanks go to the Old Bridge Surgery, Looe Development Trust and Looe Lions for their hard work in developing the Millpool centre as a vaccination centre for the Town. The organisation has been incredible, and Looe is top of the vaccination statistics in Cornwall.
Last year saw us have to do things in different ways, from holding virtual meetings to how to put on a Christmas for our Town. Again I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of our community:
- Looe’s ‘Secret Santa’ appeal raised funds to ensure our children received a present this year.
- Looe Lions delivered Christmas hampers to those in need.
- We worked with the Harbour Commissioners and Looe Lions to help Santa and his 2 reindeer visit the streets of Looe.
- Both Julie and I had the very difficult job of judging the best Christmas displays and without a doubt this year beat all others with absolutely incredible displays.
- Looe Town Council ran a ‘virtual’ 12 days of Christmas and had and amazing array of local groups and organisations join in the fun (although the Harbour Quiz was the most challenging!)
Over the last 18 months there have been big changes within the council.
In order to move our council forward and be in the best position to support and grow our community as well as taking on those services that Cornwall Council will no longer be providing, we totally restructured the Council, first of all employing a new Commercial Strategy Director and Town Clerk, Mel Colton-Dyer.
My special thanks go to Mel who more than hit the ground running and as already mentioned, now has Looe leading the way in Cornwall.
Not only have our staff changed, but we have had 7 new councillors join us in the last 12 months and have just gone through the election process.
Our new Councillors bring a wealth of different skills and experience but one thing they all have is common is a love and passion for Looe and a desire to work hard to make a positive difference to the town and for its residents. They arrived at the Council at a challenging time, but also at an exciting time with the Council working on delivering a number of key projects. Again I would like to thank every one of them for the incredible work they have done for the council and the skills that they have brought.
As part of our transformation and desire to reach as many of our community as possible we have launched a new Looe Town Council website, where we welcome any community news or updates. Community groups can also have a page on the website. We are also about to launch are new state of the art destination website.
I am delighted to report that Looe Neighbourhood Development Plan has been submitted to Cornwall Council. Details of the plan can be found at http://www.futurelooe.town/ . This is a significant step forward for Looe as Neighbourhood planning gives us, as a community, direct power to develop a shared vision for our Neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of our local area. There will be public consultation in the near future and I urge you to take an interest.
We are helping set up a town team. This will drive the town revitalisation which is so essential at this current time. It is aimed at Social, economic and environmental prosperity. It requires the Town bodies to work together which includes business, Third sector/charities, Youth/schools.
Finally I would like to again thank all the members of LTC staff for the dedication and hard work and also to my deputy Edwina Hannaford and Committee Chairman for all they do.