An optimist who wants to help seeks to become Marlborough’s town clerk
An optimist who wants to improve Marlborough for its residents – that’s the description Derek Wolfe (pictured), the would-be new town clerk, gives himself.
He takes over as acting town clerk when Liam Costello leaves on Friday, a locum post that lasts for nine weeks until a new town clerk is chosen from nine candidates by the town council’s staff committee.
And 57-year-old Mr Wolfe, who has had prodigious experience in local government for 35 years, will be one of those seeking to become the permanent holder of the office.
“There will be five or six others involved, so my chances are only 20 per cent,” he told Marlborough News Online. “You will have to wait to see what happens.”
“But I am definitely on the hopeful side for the future. I am an optimist. And at the end of the day I can only really work effectively somewhere where I believe those around me want improvements and future enhancement for the good of the local people.”
London born and educated, Mr Wolfe began his local government career with the London borough of Harrow in 1974 and subsequently worked for other London boroughs, notably Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of London Corporation.
His first appointment as town clerk was in Keynsham, Somerset, in 1994 and since then has served as town clerk for several town councils, ranging from Helston, in Cornwall, to Barry, in South Wales.
“I regard myself as semi-retired now,” explained Mr Wolfe, who lives in Axminster with his wife, and one of two step-children. “But I would be very happy to get back into the fray just to stop brain rot setting in, basically, whether that is for the short term or some longer appointment.”
He heard of Marlborough’s search for a locum town clerk to fill Mr Costello’s shoes initially through his association with the Society of Local Council Clerks and having visited Marlborough in the past decided to apply for the permanent post too.
And he is fully aware of the cost-cutting and reduced services pressures under which local government is currently working. “Mainsteam local government has been badly hit,” he said.
“But the one big difference with town and parish councils is that they are not subject to rate-capping or expenditure restrictions by government.”
“In theory, town councils can precept and spend what they believe is best for the community. If they can show they are acting responsibly and using the money for a good beneficial purpose it gives them a certain freedom that doesn’t exist for other tiers of local government.”
Mr Wolfe’s experience in handling budgets worth tens of millions to others as low as £80,000 will enable him to assess local needs.
“Here in Marlborough the town council does all manner of things for the benefit of the local population and, obviously, its annual expenditure of £400,000 is commensurate with that,” he added.
“So I am happy to come here and help in whatever way possible.”