Picture L-R ? Chief Exec Steve Hearse, Leader Cllr Ken James, Apprentices Olly Kearney, Leanne Hobbs, Erin Stickley, Deputy Leader Cllr Claire Hodson - Credit: TDC

COLUMN: TDC Apprentices shine at national event and Torrington Pool reopens

North Devon Gazette

In recent years Torridge apprenticeships have become an integral part of our work to give young people an opportunity to develop new skills and gain work experience in a variety of roles at the Council (Writes Ken James - Leader of Torridge District Council).

For many, this is often the first real work experience they have been able to benefit from and for the Council it has meant a regular influx of eager, can-do, and technically savvy young people to remind us that there is often as much to learn from them as the other way around. Apprentices have worked in many departments across the council, with a good number going on to become full time members of staff, once they finish their training. While undertaking their placements they combine their practical work roles with ongoing academic studies, at both Petroc and Exeter College.

The other week Torridge apprentice’s past and present, joined over a hundred other apprentices across the nation, to take part in the ‘Local Government Apprentice of the Year Challenge 2022’. The virtual event took place across two days, with the candidates mixed into groups and tasked to complete a series of engaging challenges. The event was a great opportunity for all the apprentices to learn, network and highlight their skills, working in virtual teams, and to experience the risks and challenges involved in delivering local government services. Candidates had to take on the role of an apprentice at a fictitious district council and complete a series of activities. One of these required the teams to generate savings in a service to help the fictitious authority close a £25m funding gap – so, not so far removed from the decisions most Councils have faced in one form or another in recent years!

I was really impressed in the way that all the participants rose so admirably to the challenge with TDC’s Customer Service Apprentice, Olly Kearney, eventually playing a crucial part in securing the overall win for his team. Each member of the winning team were rewarded with a £30 shopping voucher. Anybody interested in an apprenticeship at Torridge should keep an eye on the Councils vacancies web pages as these are advertised alongside our regular roles at https://careers.torridge.gov.uk/

In another piece of good news I was glad to see that the repairs at Torrington Swimming Pool have now been completed and the pool was able to open last weekend under the new management of Active Torridge. This followed six months of enforced closure due to a major water leak from the pool. Both our engineers and Active Torridge have worked very hard on the reopening, which was complicated by difficulties in locating and accessing the site of the damage and then global supply chain problems, leading to extended delivery times for components.

As a result of the delays Torridge engineers did take the opportunity to bring forward the installation of more efficient boilers, as well as new flooring, and internal and external redecoration works. Hopefully, these will all make a difference to the user experience and reliability going forward. Active Torridge have also recruited some fantastic new staff allowing them to increase the operating hours by 47% compared to pre-closure.

The pool opened again last Saturday with an opening day offer of free entry and access to some special discounts on memberships and swimming lessons. Now that

things are up and running again the centre will be offering swimming sessions, aquafit classes, and swimming lessons, as well as once again being the home base of the Torridgeside Amateur Swimming Club. We are incredibly grateful for everyone’s patience while the pool was closed, and genuinely feel that the reopening will now usher in a new era and fresh approach for leisure in Torrington, and right across the district, with Active Torridge now at the helm.

If people want more information on timetables and other details about any of the leisure centres these can be found on the Active Torridge Facebook page and website, or by emailing hello@activetorridge.co.uk – it’s a great time to get active in Torridge!

Leader of Torridge District Council Ken James - Credit: TDC
Leader of Torridge District Council Ken James - Credit: TDC