Shaftesbury’s Mayor and three former Council Chairmen have offered personal tributes to Steve Clinch, who died earlier this week.
Steve served on Shaftesbury Town Council between 2011 and 2015. He was 65 years of age when he passed away at his home in the town centre.
“He was a very kind-hearted chap who wouldn’t hurt anybody and was really conscientious about doing anything,” recalls former Town councillor and Mayor, Winifred Harvey. “He was born and bred in Shaftesbury and that was one of the things that he was really passionate about,” she said.
In December 2014, Steve became Chairman of the Town Council’s Planning and Highways Committee and presided over a meeting in a packed Town Hall, which discussed Persimmon Homes’ planning application relating to a children’s play area.
Friend, Bill Sherriff, says Steve took his planning duties seriously. “When he was on the planning committee, unlike some, he’d make a point of visiting locations where there are planning applications to get feedback and report back to the committee.”
Steve had worked in the building trade and was involved in the construction of a number of key Shaftesbury buildings including the former Co-op store on Bell Street. He recently offered his advice to the Town Council’s Economic Advisory Committee on the empty store’s layout and construction. The group was discussing a bid for the property under ‘Project Belle’.
Bill says that when Steve was a councillor, he provided a voice for locals who may not otherwise be heard. “He toned down the elitism of the Council. He was an ordinary, working Dorset man. He added to a good mix in the Council,” Bill said.
Steve was not returned to the Council in the 2015 election and stood for Council again this year. Despite being unsuccessful in May, he continued attending Council meetings as a spectator, often using the public comment portion of the sessions to share his observations. “More recently, he was like Hans Christian Anderson’s little boy who told the Emperor that he was out wearing no clothes. He would speak out,” said William.
“He was always here at virtually every Council meeting,” says current Shaftesbury Mayor Tim Cook. “He was happy to give his thoughts and whilst we did not always agree, I always knew he believed in what he said, and I commend him for that.”
If Steve didn’t like what he heard he wasn’t afraid to heckle or mutter from the public seating. “He wasn’t shy of what he believed in and we need people like that,” said Tim.
Steve was a passionate supporter of the Coles Funfair and, as a councillor, he pushed for the installation of a commemorative plaque and plinth at Barton Hill. It was installed in 2013 to mark the 80th anniversary of the event coming to town during the Carnival week.
Former Mayor and current Dorset councillor Derek Beer recalls that if there was ever a threat of the fair not coming at Carnival time, Steve would become ‘very agitated’. Derek says that Steve served on the Carnival committee for many years. “Steve was definitely a local character and will be missed,” said Cllr Beer.
Ray Humphries is another former mayor who says he is sad to hear of the death of a lifelong Shaftesbury resident. He fondly recalls Steve’s work helping as a disco roadie. “It’s very sad news. He was a local boy,” said Ray.
Funeral arrangements are not currently available.