Shopkeeper ready to do business as the Mayor

09:34 09 May 2012

Mayor of Barnstaple Lesley Brown

Mayor of Barnstaple Lesley Brown

Archant

Council’s new chairman hopes to be a role model for the town.

A BARNSTAPLE shopkeeper says she is prepared to ‘roll up her sleeves’ for the good of the town in her new role as Mayor.

Councillor Lesley Brown was officially elected as chairman of Barnstaple Town Council at a special meeting in the Guildhall last night (Tuesday).

Mrs Brown, who runs Frankmarsh Stores in Churchill Close, said the Mayor should be ‘a role model’ for people in the town.

“As councillors we need to do what we can to encourage people to be more accountable for their own areas,” she told the Gazette.

“If I can roll up my sleeves and get stuck in then I hope they will as well. I wouldn’t ask anybody to do anything that I wouldn’t attempt myself.

“It’s all about trying to enhance what we already have and trying to make things look as best as they can with very little money.”

Mrs Brown, 55, said the town council’s annual Tidy Up Our Town weeks had already shown how much could be achieved on a shoestring budget.

“We are starting to see the benefits of all the hard work already done. We had a recent walk-through ahead of this year’s event in June and were actually struggling to find projects to take on.”

Mrs Brown, who is serving her fifth year as a town councillor after being elected as the Yeo ward in 2007, said affordable housing and the vibrancy of the town centre were also high on her list of priorities.

“It’s not just about empty shops; we need to see what we can do to assist existing businesses,” she said.

Originally from Southend-on-Sea, Mrs Brown, 55, moved to Barnstaple in 2000 after buying her shop with husband William, 59.

The store very quickly became a focal point for the Frankmarsh and Gorwell community and has won national recognition for its hard line on crime, notably underage drinking.

Mrs Brown, who also became a North Devon district councillor last year, said being elected as Mayor was ‘a huge honour’.

“I never thought I’d be Mayor of Barnstaple; I’m slightly daunted but looking forward to it.

“It’s going to an exciting year ahead with the jubilee, Olympics and the Tour of Britain cycle race.”

The mayoral chains will be handed over by outgoing Mayor Cllr Ian Roome at the Mayor Making ceremony on Monday evening.

Cllr Val Elkins, who represents Pilton, has been appointed deputy Mayor.

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