New Sawbridgeworth town clerk Chris Hunt aiming to reach out to community after Covid restrictions lifted
Engagement with the community is top of the list of priorities for Sawbridgeworth Town Council’s new clerk.
After several weeks in the post, retired police inspector Chris Hunt is getting to grips with the projects he wants to pursue and believes his 29-year career in the force will stand him in good stead.
His main aim is to improve communication between town councillors and the community.
"Now the Covid restrictions have lifted it would be nice to have more face to face," said Chris, who will be at the helm of his first full town council meeting on Monday (Sept 27), the first at the council's Sayesbury Manor offices without Covid safety measures.
He sees the Echo system police use for communicating with the public as a template and has held meetings with a former colleague who launched it for East Herts police.
One of the projects he wants to progress is the town green scheme for Bell Street, which has been delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
"I've already met with councillors on the site and I have a meeting planned with a civil engineer," said Chris. "It's a blank canvas – it's something that can give a heart to the town."
As a former 'bobby on the beat' in Sawbridgeworth who became an inspector for the local Safer Neighbourhood Team before retiring in August, Chris feels he knows the town well.
"The heart of all the work I did was on the neighbourhood team, so I will just carry that on," he said.
He recognises the town will be going through changes over the next few years, with 500 new homes being built, but he sees that as a positive.
"It's important to ensure the newcomers are made welcome but to ensure they play their part," he said. "Change is always looked at as a concern, but I think we should embrace it."
Having sat in town council meetings as an observer throughout the summer he is aware of the issues which have sprung up over the various developments, in particular over homes being built off West Road.
"I've spoken to the developers on site and it's about working with everybody to increase communication," he said.
Apart from starting a new job, he and wife Nicola, who also retired from the force this year as a sergeant, moved to a new home in Suffolk.
Chris has bought himself a BMW motorbike which will ease the daily commute to Sawbridgeworth and give him "some thinking time".
Although it's the end of an era for Chris and Nicola, their daughter Annabel is upholding the family policing tradition in her role as a special constable in Welwyn Garden City.
But as Chris told the Indie back in August, although proud to have followed in his police officer father's footsteps, he and Nicola look forward to new challenges outside of the force.