Barnstaple Town Council’s new town clerk said the opportunity to work in the town he was born was one he didn’t want to miss.

Rob Ward started in his new post last Monday. He replaces Will Austin, who left the town council in June.

It’s something of a homecoming for Mr Ward, who was born in Barnstaple and lived in Bradworthy and Combe Martin for six years before moving away with his parents.

He joins the town council from Milton Keynes, where he has spent more than 20 years working across services including youth, parks and open spaces, highways and waste.

Barnstaple has been a regular holiday destination for Mr Ward, his wife Helen and two kids, and the opportunity to settle down in North Devon was one he was waiting for.

“We have spent many a holiday in North Devon coming to Barnstaple on a regular basis and have been looking for the opportunity to return to here for many years,” said Mr Ward.

“When the town clerk role was advertised it was an opportunity not to be missed.

“It’s one thing knowing a place like Barnstaple as a holiday maker, it’s another thing living and working in that place.

“I am delighted to be here and see the town council as vital in supporting the future of Barnstaple with its culture and heritage.”

Mr Ward said a big part of the town council’s role will be working with the district and county councils and Barnstaple Town Centre Management to regenerate the town and boost its economic growth.

Other priorities include carrying on the town council’s work to improve the Guildhall, as well as develop a neighbourhood plan for Barnstaple.

“As a family coming back here you can see how retail side is being challenged by our modern world,” he said.

“I know the town council wants to be part of rebuilding that into whatever shape it needs to be, but we can’t do that on our own. We need to work with others.

“North Devon Council has a strategy for developing ideas and we are going to play a part in that. Everyone has got to be about working together.”