A visit to the Civic Centre to deliver my filled-in election expenses to the returning officer (and no, we don’t get them reimbursed as some people seem to think). Then on to a meeting at the Barnstaple Hotel to learn about, and discuss, mooted changes to the way health care is delivered in North Devon – more about this on myCommunity Hospital page later. Whilst walking from the Civic Centre to the Barnstaple Hotel I decided to go to the top of Barnstaple Castle, something I’d never done before. Two thirds of the way up I encountered barrier tape strung across the path. It would appear that people on mountain bikes have been using the old castle as a course and have caused extensive damage. I presume that’s why the tape was there.  However, why not put a notice at the bottom if the path is closed?

Barnstaple Castle Small



I’m heartened by the very many messages of support I’ve had from various people following the by-election. The majority of whom told me that they were surprised that I didn’t get in – and hoped that I would stand again in the May elections next year.

It was exciting for me to obtain only 37 votes less than the leaders. All of this as a one man band: I created, ran and managed the whole of my campaign myself. I now know every nook and cranny of South Molton as I delivered my leaflets (printed at home) to each household in the parish!

This is in contrast to Tracey Lewis, who had the help of various councillors, as well as her partner, and all the resources of Printworkx. Jean Foster was supported by an enthusiastic and large team of Lib Dems, and had the advantage that the local MP, Nick Harvey, canvassed on her behalf in the centre of town two weeks in a row.

Harvest Festival

Pulpit Harvest Festival Small

Sheep Harvest Festival [Website]

Harvest festival in the ParishChurch, a civic service, with the town clerk and town mayor in full regalia, accompanied by the Mayor’s Cadet (Francis Huntingford) and many councillors, as well as the Carnival Queen and her attendants. Other dignitaries, including the mayor of Livarot, were in attendance. The South Molton Town Band led the large congregation in the first and last hymns. The Rev Dr Michael Grandey officiated, assisted by the newly ordained Rev Lynn Flatt. He preached an inspiring, humorous and interactive sermon. The church looked beautiful, decorated with flowers and assorted produce – congratulations to those responsible.

Carnival Time!

Probably the biggest and best South Molton carnival for many years. These events don’t just ‘happen’, they take a phenomenal amount of organisation and preparation. Thanks and congratulations to the South Molton Rotary Club for organising it and special thanks to the very many people who took part. Without you there would be no carnival!

Mayor and SM Rotary President Small

The Mayor (Cllr Stephen Lock) at the head of the procession being driven by the President of South Molton Rotary.

How Groceries used to be delivered small

How groceries used to be delivered before the days of Ocado, Sainsbury and Tesco.

Old Style Tractor Small

An old style tractor.

Slightly More Modern Tractor Small

A slightly more modern tractor. Doubtless a reader of Tractor Magazine could tell us the exact vintage and the model. I suspect all the modern behemoths with GPS, stereos and air-conditioning were out working.

Way's Lorries Small

Mervyn Way’s show of power – Scanias, Volvos and Mercs in convoy up New Street. The whole fleet could probably encircle the town centre and cattle market like a modern day equivalent of the wild west waggon trains. Apparently there were 21 of Mervyn’s vehicles there, with 19 drivers plus Mervyn and his son. The vehicles positively gleamed, and I’m sure the tyres had been painted black. A stunning display!

Macmillan Cancer Support and Bowling

Once again the people of South Molton have proved to be very generous. This morning  I went to a Macmillan Cancer Support’s Big Breakfast hosted by South Molton Bowling Club where over £750 was raised. There were a few other Big Breakfasts around South Molton this morning so I suspect the total raised across South Molton was probably well over £1,000.

The Count!

The count has now finished and I didn’t get in this time round. I’m obviously disappointed, but didn’t do that badly considering I was coming from nowhere. I’ll be back in May. I’d like to thank my wife, Alison Verney, for being so supportive and understanding over the past few weeks.

Thanks very much to all those who voted for me. The turnout, at 21%, was very good for a town council by-election – with 320 postal votes and 516 ballot box votes. (At the last by-election in South Molton, in August 2011, only 9% of the electorate voted.)

There was high drama at the count which went like this:

CORNELIUS, Marc Peter Independent 228
FOSTER, Jean Helen Liberal Democrat 266
HERNIMAN, Ronald Francis 76
LEWIS, Tracey Maria Independent 264
Spoilt Papers 2

A recount was requested for the Lewis and Foster votes, with the following result:
FOSTER, Jean Helen Liberal Democrat 265
LEWIS, Tracey Maria Independent 265

Second recount:
FOSTER, Jean Helen Liberal Democrat 265
LEWIS, Tracey Maria Independent 265

The returning officer then put two ballot papers in a box, one for Jean Foster and one for Tracey Lewis, and pulled one out.

The winner was then declared – Tracey Lewis.

Commiserations to Jean Foster (and Ron Herniman) and congratulations to Tracey Lewis.

It’s a shame that the eventual winner is the only candidate who doesn’t live in South Molton. She lives in Romansleigh and therefore doesn’t pay the South Molton council tax.

The Band D council tax for 2014/15 in Romansleigh is £1,588.38. In South Molton it’s £1,644.19 – £55.81 a year more.

There are now two people on the town council who don’t live in South Molton but who will participate in the decision making process that a) spends the town’s money and b) authorises the amount of council tax that the town council levies.


Whoopee! Last flyer delivered this afternoon (22 September). I’ve printed off more than 2,500 and delivered one to every address in the parish of South Molton – from Meethe Barton in the south to North Cockerham in the north, via Clapworthy in the west and Lower Great Hele Cottages and Mole Bridge Lane in the east.

I hope I haven’t missed any houses, but given the number of small alleys in South Molton with houses down them, I expect I’ve inadvertently missed one or two.

Pavements Yet Again

An update on the pavement story. I asked Devon County Council a couple of questions about these works and have now received a reply:
Q: How much did this work cost?
A: Rogers Garage, East Street £1,767.72, Barclays to Snows, Broad Street £2,043.71,
George Hotel to Museum, Broad Street £3,400.87.
Q: What was the rationale for it?
A: The footways were at safety defect level in that pedestrians were tripping on the uneven surface. Also water was splashing up under the loose slabs.
Q: Why was it timed to coincide with a bank holiday weekend?
A: East Street and Broad Street are not deemed traffic sensitive streets (where DCC can impose restrictions on working times) and as such no restrictions were placed on our contractor in the timing of the works.
So now you know! I think I might ask them a few follow-up questions.

South Molton Weekend

I totally forgot to mention that I went to two superb events in South Molton over the weekend (19/20 September). The first was in the parish church on Friday: a concert by the South Molton Town Band and the South Molton Choir commemorating the First Wold War held in aid of the Royal British Legion. Then on the Saturday night Alison and I went to see ‘The Odd Couple’  put on by a local amateur dramatic group at The George Hotel – very funny indeed. There’s usually something going on in South Molton somewhere.