The Whitlock Years
PUBLISHED: 13:38 10 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:54 15 June 2010
APPLAUSE greeted Councillor Vernon Whitlock as he took his final steps as Mayor of Honiton.
APPLAUSE greeted Councillor Vernon Whitlock as he took his final steps as Mayor of Honiton.The short walk, down a bulging aisle at St Rita's Centre in Honiton last week, marked the end of two years as chairman of Honiton Town Council.It was an emotional journey for Councillor Whitlock, who has steered the council through a positive period in the town's history.A "can do" attitude is his legacy, according to newly installed mayor Councillor Chris Tratt. "It's a traditional ceremony, but also a time for the town council to thank those who play such key roles in the town," Councillor Whitlock said in his retiring address.He was, of course, referring to the multitudes of community organisations that keep Honiton alive with activities and to whom Councillor Whitlock has looked so closely during his term of office, to offer support."It's the last time I'll be wearing this hat," he joked, referring to a moment when former town clerk John Spencer revealed it was too small to properly fit on his head."It's been an honour and a privilege to serve this town as mayor," Councillor Whitlock said. He went on to say the role added up to a lot more than being chairman of the town council. It was one that represented the town as a whole.Promoting the town centre as a unique shopping experience had been one of his pleasures. Councillor Whitlock said Honiton is in a tremendous location and that it is "spoilt" by fantastic community events such as Honiton Show. Although royal visits had featured in his term of office, it was local people who featured most prominently in his recollections.Councillor Whitlock said: "One of my most important roles has been supporting local organisations. I would like to publicly and personally thank all of them."He thanked fellow town councillors, including his successor Chris Tratt, for their tremendous support and went on to stress that party politics played no part in the town council's work. He is the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Tiverton and Honiton constituency.Councillor Whitlock said it was the aim of all town councillors to work for the benefit of the town. He thanked town crier Dave Retter for being the underlying force of strict tradition in Honiton, saying it was Mr Retter who showed him how the ceremonial duties of mayor should be carried out.Reflecting on his two years in office, Councillor Whitlock referred to the many successes - the attainment of Quality Council status, raising the profile of the work of the town council and undertaking more community consultation. He also referred to the implementation of CCTV in Honiton, provided through a multi-agency group fronted by Councillor Tratt, on-going improvements to the town's environment, including the Glen, strong opposition to Tesco's relocation bid and closer working relationships with Honiton Community College and the youth of the town.Councillor Whitlock highlighted the town council's growing relationship with East Devon District Council and Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry.In the case of Honiton Development Trust, which is charged with bringing a blueprint for the town's future to fruition, he said: "Watch this space.
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