Bridgwater Town Council was set up in 2003 and since that time its only Town Clerk has been local footballing legend Alan Hurford. Now at the age of 70 , Hurf is hanging up his boots and Bridgwater needs a new enthusiastic and dedicated Town Clerk & Responsible Financial Officer with a brief to “achieve Council objectives, and to drive high quality initiatives to further improve the well being of the community.”
With application forms now available and candidates recommended to drop in to the Town Hall Office on Bridgwater’s busy High Street to have a word with Hurf about what the job entails,some things are already clear. Alan Hurford says “The successful candidate will have a flexible approach leading a small team with the ability to motivate, and develop excellent working relationships with Councillors and the local community. Good asset and project management, office administration and financial management skills are essential coupled with a knowledge of council procedures and local government law. The Town Clerk will be required to respect and uphold the traditions and ceremonials of the town.To be considered for this key role, the applicant will be expected to demonstrate wide ranging experience at a senior level. A background which shows continuing development is highly desirable. Knowledge of the town of Bridgwater and appropriate qualification(s) e.g. CiLCA would be an advantage but not essential. As all BTC appointments the post will be subject to a three-month probationary period.”
When Alan Hurford first took on the Town Clerk job he admits that he saw it as something to fill his time for maybe a couple of years. He stayed on for 15 years and was crucial to the relaunch of a genuine grassroots local authority for the town of Bridgwater which had been snatched away in 1974 by the Local Government reforms that had destroyed the ancient Borough Council and submerged it into Sedgemoor District Council.
Alan said “I knew from Day One that the aspirations of the new Town Council was to make a mark. The Services we provided, the premises we picked up from Sedgemoor along the way -the Museum, the Town Hall, Trinity Hall, making sure the finances stacked up. In these 15 years we have seen an uplift in the town. Some of that is due to Hinkley but that’s also brought with it its own issues. I’d say we have a very good relationship with the Police and as a local authority we’re the closest to the people with a High Street door that’s always open.”
Very Small Staff
The Town Council runs on a very small staff. Apart from Alan there’s a caretaker and there’s the office manager Jude Fisher.Jude amplifies Alan’s point about the importance of the Town Council office “It’s quite a retro thing these days to drop in somewhere and find a real person to talk to, but that’s what we do here. At times it can be a nuisance but really it keeps your feet on the ground and you have your eyes and ears on the street.”
Jude defines the Town Clerk role as a ’jack of all trades and master of all trades’. “One minute you can be unblocking a toilet and the next showing the High Sherrif up the High street” (such are Bridgwater’s ancient traditions)
Hurf doesn’t disagree and emphasises the importance of mixing high levels of knowledge about the workings of government, procedures and financial matters alongside a campaigning ‘representative role’. “It’s important to me that I was there at the Planning committee meetings to put the Town’s perspective and I was there making the case at the Nuclear inspectorate about the need for a By-Pass, even though in the end we didn’t get one. But some of the things we pushed for have come to fruition like the Colley lane relief road and the new Leggar Link”.
The new ‘Leggar Link’ also slightly by-passes the formerly hallowed turf of Bridgwater Town FC, which Alan Hurford also played a key part in helping through its glory years, as Captain when they won the 1981 Western League title and later as Player Manager.
Alan started his working life at British Cellophane and then worked for the famous Bridgwater Borough Council as a Clerk until it was abolished in 1974 when he moved on to Weston Super Mare Town Council and continued a sparkling career in local government with North Somerset Unitary Authority where he ended up as assistant Chief Executive.
Town Council Leader, Brian Smedley said “It will be difficult to find such a perfect candidate for this job as Alan Hurford with not only his vast knowledge and experience of local government, including crucially his years with the Bridgwater Borough Council – one of our aspirations is getting a replay on that one -but also his leadership skills and the simple yet key fact that he has Bridgwater written right the way through him. But we have to, because we have to move on and nothing lasts for ever. Not even Leeds United’s stint in the Championship. Even though it may seem that way…..”
Applications now sought
Persons interested in the role of Bridgwater Town Clerk are invited to contact Alan Hurford (retiring Town Clerk) for a preliminary discussion on the role and duties and for an application pack. Closing date for applications 15 May 2018 – in writing or by email.Interviews are planned for 24 May 2018.Apply to: Bridgwater Town Council FAO Town Clerk High Street Bridgwater TA6 3AS