Nearly 90 years of combined service
DEVIZES Town Council’s two longest-serving husband and wife teams are retiring.
Charles and Paula Winchcombe, who are Conservatives, and Ray and Margaret Taylor, who represent Labour, are not seeking re-election in May.
Charles Winchcombe has served 30 years continuously. Mrs Taylor is the next longest-serving, with 26 years split over two periods. Mr Taylor has been a town councillor for 19 years and Mrs Winchcombe for 14.
All four retiring councillors have been mayor, with Mrs Taylor taking the role twice.
The Winchcombes are retiring so they can focus on their funeral business in Devizes and Marlborough and spend more time with their grandchildren.
Mr Winchcombe, 61, said he stood for the council back in 1983 to get things done.
“I kept on complaining about what the town council was doing and I thought it’s no good complaining, I had better do something about it, so I stood for election,” he said.
Mr Winchcombe, who also served as a Kennet district councillor for 12 years and as a Wiltshire county councillor for four years, said the highlights of his time on the town council were the Corn Exchange being refurbished, the building of the Devizes Leisure Centre and awarding the Freedom of the town to the Wiltshire Yeomanry.
On retiring from the town council, he said: “I think 30 years is enough and I think some younger people should be given a chance.”
Mrs Winchcombe, who has served as a Roundway parish councillor and a Kennet district councillor for ten years, said she was proud of the council’s refurbishment of Hillworth Park and championing the role of students at Devizes School who take part in town council meetings as advisors.
She said: “As councillors, at whatever level, we always think we know what young people want. This is an ideal opportunity of having young people round the table and giving their perspective – they are the decision makers of the future.”
Mr and Mrs Taylor, both retired teachers and in their mid-70s, say they are standing down because of their age.
Mrs Taylor, who was also a Kennet district councillor for 15 years and a Wiltshire county councillor for 12 years, said: “I can’t put as much into it as I used to and it would be great if we could get some younger people in. I have enjoyed all of it. I always put what was best for Devizes before party politics.”
She said she had taken a great interest in twinning in the town. Mr Taylor, who was a Kennet district councillor for eight years, said he and his wife had not always voted the same on issues.
He said: “The thing I have enjoyed most and appreciated is working with competent town hall staff who steered Devizes into a first rate market town.”
In retirement, Mrs Taylor will be taking part in U3A activities while her husband will continue his involvement with Devizes Rugby Club, where he is a life member and on the committee. They have three sons and two grandchildren.