New man takes over as Anne Jenkins steps down.
BARNSTAPLE Town Council’s new town clerk says he has been welcomed by the town’s ‘strong sense of community’ and impressed by its level of infrastructure.
Will Austin, who takes over from the retiring Anne Jenkins today (Friday), brings more than 20 years of local government experience to a role he was inspired to take up by his great uncle.
Mr Austin said he was thrilled to have moved to North Devon with his partner Liz, following two-and-a-half ‘rewarding’ years as town clerk at Haverhill Town Council in Suffolk.
“There seems to be a very good community spirit here and I’ve been really pleased to see people I don’t know saying ‘hello’ in the street,” he said.
“It is a town that is well catered for from an infrastructure point of view and a great town to be in.
“Barnstaple has some beautiful heritage buildings and it has maintained a lot more than some other market towns.”
The father-of-three and former exchequer manager said he became a town clerk after experiencing various roles in local government during a 20-year career.
“My great uncle was a town clerk in Suffolk and I was gazing at his OBE medal one day and thought ‘he must have had a very interesting job’.
“A couple of years ago I thought about what I would like to do and I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives – the last two-and-a-half years have been hugely rewarding.”
Mr Austin started his new role last Tuesday – also his 50th birthday.
He said his first priority was to get to know the town and the local community.
“I want people here to think of me as a local and know that I’m every bit as committed to the town as they are,” he added.