UP CLOSE: Philip Welch, the 647th Mayor of Wells

By Tim Lethaby

16th Jul 2021 | Local News

Wells Nub News aims to be supportive to every element of the community from business and shops to people and charities, clubs and sports organisations.

Everyone is finding it tough at the moment and are desperate to get back to normal.

We are profiling some of these local businesses, people and groups regularly over coming weeks in a feature called UP CLOSE IN WELLS in the hope that we can be a supportive springboard for their full return to normal.

Today we talk to Philip Welch, former editor of the Wells Journal and now the 647th Mayor of Wells, who sets out his priorities for the next 18 months.

During a Q and A session he also talks about one of the major discussion points in Wells - housing.

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You are the 647th Mayor of Wells - how proud do you feel to be part of such a rich tradition in the city?

I feel great pride but also humility to have been granted such an honour.

Tell us a bit about your personal history Philip - many will know you from your days as editor of the Wells Journal, but how did you come to Wells and ultimately be put forward as mayor?

In 1997 I was in charge of the Bristol Evening Post's six district editions, which included Somerset, when I was asked by chief executive Alan Goode to be acting editor for three months of the Mid Somerset Series which the Bristol papers had just bought.

After three weeks I asked Alan if I could stay permanently which I did until retiring as editor in 2013.

I was elected to the city council as a Wells Independent, whose basic principle is that party politics have no place in local government, and was selected by the council 18 months ago to become the next mayor.

What impact has the coronavirus crisis had on the work of Wells City Council and your duties as a councillor?

We have had to hold all meetings virtually with Zoom, which is not ideal, and communicate with residents by phone or email.

Mayor Making was unusual. Instead of 100 guests, followed by supper with them in the Wells Town Hall ballroom we had six people involved in a 15-minute ceremony followed by me buying pizza for the grandchildren in Ask.

What will your priorities be as mayor for the next 18 months?

To return control of the Market Place, Recreation Ground and Bishop's Barn to the city from Mendip District Council, who were given them in 1974 as part of a local government reorganisation.

The coronavirus crisis and lockdown has been difficult for everyone - how do you think that Wells as a city has coped?

It has coped better than places in other parts of the country. The 350 volunteers recruited by the Wells Coronavirus Network have done much to support vulnerable, isolated and shielded people in the city.

Housing is a major talking point in Wells - what are your views on the number of new homes being built and proposed?

There is little land left for housing developments in Wells. Most proposed and approved developments are in St Cuthbert Out Parish Council's area, the doughnut shape around the city boundaries.

My concern is lack of additional infrastructure like doctors' surgeries.

If you had one message for the residents on Wells, what would it be?

The coronavirus crisis will pass.

Who would you like to play you in a movie about your life?

Donald Trump would answer this question by saying himself. No one will want to make a movie about me.

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You can check out the Wells City Council website here.

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See our other UP CLOSE profiles:

Wells city councillor Pammy Crummay

Wells Festival of Literature trustee and committee member Hilary Cain

Would you like to be the subject of an UP CLOSE profile or do you know someone who we should feature? Contact [email protected]

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