THE new mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett Steve Bucknell has donned the chain of office for a second time and he’s hoping that this mayoral year the focus will be on the town’s future.

He joined the council a decade ago and his first stint as mayor began in 2009. It was a difficult time as the town came under the international spotlight when its role in honouring the fallen from Afghanistan and Iraq became known.

“It was a really fascinating, touching and moving time to be involved,” he said.

Steve met many of the bereaved families, feeling it was a privilege and an honour to have the task of welcoming them and standing with them as their loved ones were brought through the town.

He also had to deal with the media. For most of the time it was straightforward and journalists understood what the town was trying to do.

But with the publicity came more unwelcome attention and the threat of protests.

“When it became really hard work was when people were trying to hijack what was happening in Wootton Bassett for their own political ends,” said Steve.

At one point in a year that saw the repatriation of eight soldiers in a single cortege, another five-hearse cortege of soldiers killed by a rogue Afghan policeman, and the return of bomb disposal expert Staff Sgt Olaf Schmidt’s body.

Steve was receiving an average 30 to 40 emails a day from people all over the world.

Most of them were lending their support and praising the town for the way it was paying its respects and he answered every single one. There were also many letters and cards, many added to an archive detailing those four emotional years.

But this year in office is likely to be very different.

“I’ve had 14 engagements already and all but one of those has been very much about the town and what’s going on in the town and our relationship with neighbouring town councils,” he said.

There was an echo of 2009 for him last week when he met a team from Hockey for Heroes who had dropped in on their 200-mile hike from Cardiff to London carrying an injured former Royal Marine on a stretcher.

A short ceremony at the war memorial brought back memories, not just for him but for the team who remembered friends they lost.

This year one of Steve’s main aims is to get a corporate plan for the town. The neighbourhood plan is almost finished and hopes are high it will soon be adopted by Wiltshire Council.

“I would like to take that forward and create a longer term plan for the town as a whole,” he said.

“What do we want the children to inherit?”

Now that the temporary relief road has been closed there is interest in the idea of a permanent bypass. Campaigners are also calling for a skate park.

A new initiative to introduce pocket parks – quiet spaces, art works or interesting features – in the centre of the town is also taking its first steps and Steve hopes local groups will take part.

For his mayoral charity he has chosen the town carnival.

“Now they’ve have had two wet years in a row any support we can give to help will be great,” he said.