Town must balance service cuts with growing local prosperity, says Councillor Stephen Lock.

THE new Mayor of South Molton says the town must balance ‘the best of times and the worst of times’ during the year ahead.

Councillor Stephen Lock, quoted the opening line from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities as he was officially appointed as mayor at a ceremony at the Guildhall on Wednesday night.

Mr Lock said the town faced a fight to retain hospital beds, its youth service, children’s centre, and day centre services at Beech House.

But he said South Molton was a ‘thriving community’ and was set for more expansion over the coming months.

“We have hardly any empty shops on our streets and our Central Park is the envy of all the parish and town councils in the district,” he said.

“We were accused of selling off part of Pathfields Business Park too cheaply, but what we did was allow local companies to expand.

“The proof that we were right can be seen by just looking around the business park and seeing the amount of local companies that have relocated here.”

Mr lock said an extension of the community woodland was almost finished and the first wave of the new Gullacombes housing development was well under way.

He said: “In the first tranche, there will be a large percentage of affordable housing.

“This is badly needed for the young families of this town and hope that North Devon Homes will allocate a large portion of these houses to people from South Molton.”

Heating and plumbing engineer Mr Lock, 64, has been a town councillor for 13 years and was previously mayor from 2007-09. His wife Christine also serves as a town councillor.

He added: “We councillors don’t seem to get a lot of thanks for what we do; but I believe that South Molton town councillors past and present, have done a splendid job over the years, to make South Molton one of the best places to live in the UK.

“I feel proud to have been part of this town history and I look forward to working with my fellow councillors here to do the best we can for South Molton in the coming year.”