Towards the end of 2009 Shepton Bassett Town Council set about producing a new town plan, called Shepton Bassett: A Vision for the Future 2010-2014. In 2017, after severe budget cuts, a lacklustre public consultation and several high profile financial scandals, the council decided that the town probably would have a future after all and now this plan has finally been published.
Fundamental to the plan are five key developments, building on the town's strengths in order to maximise the income potential of Shepton Bassett's most promising assets and meet the challenges of the next four years*.
1. Pest Control
Shepton Bassett's Pest Control Service is widely acknowledged as one of the best in the country and is already one of the council's chief revenue streams. Vermin are dispatched cleanly, quickly and efficiently by our two-man team of Ralph McPherson, who hits them with a stick, and Big Dave, who drives the van. Further investment in this award-winning service will significantly increase its capacity and earning potential, and so the council has set aside funds for a new van and a bigger stick for Ralph.
2. Recycling Centre
Shepton Bassett's modern outdoor recycling centre is one of its most popular attractions and on Sunday mornings traffic queues frequently stretch back onto the main road as visitors wait to dispose of old furniture, electrical items and garden waste. At present, admission is free but plans are being drawn up to develop the site into a theme park. 'World of Rubbish' will feature refuse-themed rides, demonstrations and a state-of-the-art visitors' centre in which guests can learn all about what happens to their junk, from the moment they toss it casually into a skip, right up to the point that it's shipped out to China.
Shepton Bassett has a rich history and can legitimately claim to have been founded by the Normans, archaeologists having traced the first settlement here back to 1922 when Norman Hinkle and Norman Butterfield set up a rendering plant. The council will capitalise on the town's heritage by instigating tours of the site of the former Woolworths, holding a major exhibition on the town's innovative one-way system and commissioning a blue plaque for the Coach and Horses, where Oliver Reed threw up in 1972. Visitors to Shepton Bassett will be encouraged to enjoy the heady atmosphere of tradition, most of which emanates from Hinkle and Butterfield's rendering plant, still in operation today.
4. A Tree
Shepton Bassett high street is a thriving centre of activity, with some shoppers still coming from miles around in spite of the pull of the nearby retail park just off the motorway. It boasts not two but three shoe shops, a bakery, an estate agent and a vacuum cleaner spares shop, plus the potential for an exciting new development where the bank used to be. And for lovers of charity shops there are charity shops.
However, it was felt that the high street has been neglected for too long and work is needed to create a more pleasant shopping environment. To this end the council has decided to plant a tree. Consultations are currently underway to decide what kind of tree is needed and councillors have already brought back suggestions from fact-finding visits to Norway, Florida and southern Spain. Progress is being made but further research is needed - we hear that there are some particularly nice trees in Barbados at this time of year.
Shepton Bassett has expanded considerably in the last few years and in addition to the increased demands on our transport infrastructure there is also a need for more housing. The council has been working with local businesses to improve transport links and can announce that three more bus stops are planned over the next ten years. It is hoped that the local bus operator can be persuaded to use them.
A solution to the housing problem has also been agreed. The gents' toilet on the marketplace has been closed since 1986 and is ripe for redevelopment. Crumbling, filthy and reeking of human waste, it is felt that this would be the ideal site for a development of 22 semidetached residences, four retail units and a new medical centre.
Councillor Kevin Giblet
Mayor of Shepton Bassett
Shepton Bassett: A Vision for the Future 2010-2014 was approved by the town council in March 2017 and has the full backing of all elected members, except Councillor Bob Frampton - surprise, surprise. There's no pleasing some people, is there? And why has he thrown his toys out of the pram this time? I'll tell you why - it's because, despite all evidence to the contrary, he swears blind that Oliver Reed actually threw up at the Red Lion instead of the Coach and Horses. Guess who owns the Red Lion? Exactly. Well Bob, the Red Lion is a seedy spit-and-sawdust dive, part illegal gambling den, part knocking shop, and you're not getting a blue plaque.
Anyway, this is not the place to air grievances. I heartily endorse the proposals put forward in this document and remain hopeful that we might at some point be able to raise enough cash to put some of them into effect. Cheers.