New Clerk for Chard
Chard Town Council announced the appointment of Gareth Hughes as the new Town Clerk this morning (14 February). Mr Hughes will join the council from Tuesday 9th May.
Mr Hughes comes well armed to the fray. Having been both brought up and educated in Chard, to say nothing of playing cricket and rugby there, he certainly knows the town well. He says he is: “excited by the opportunity to work in his home town and being able to work with the Town Councillors and residents of Chard, to help them shape its future.”
As the town has recently had a brand new leisure centre/pool built, his 20 plus years experience in the leisure sector will come in handy. His proudest achievement to date was as centre manager of a Community Centre. There he was landlord to 6 businesses on site including a pharmacy and an NHS Somerset Wellbeing Hub. He says a big achievement of his is “establishing a community summer fair that now sees up to 5,000 people attend each year.” He established the centre as a successful conference venue in Bridgwater. The centre also includes a successful community café opening 5 days a week.
He is perhaps a brave soul. Over the past decade or so the role of town clerk in Chard has been something of a hot potato. Clerks have come and gone in rapid succession. Since January 2011 the following have held the post, or deputised for it, on a permanent or temporary basis:
- Adrian Turner
- Paul Russell
- Andrew Gun
- Tracey Lamb
- Nick Randle
- Tracey Lamb
- Zoe Truong
- Sarah Robson
- John Furze
The core issue appears to be what has been described as a culture of bullying. That is currently being looked into by an independent investigator. The outcome of that report, and whether it is made public, may be crucial to the success of the town council going forward.
Residents of Chard will hope that with a new clerk and at last an investigation into bullying, the town council can start again with a clean sheet.