Chairman's Report - Year ending April 2017
Since becoming Chairman of the Parish Council in May last year the Government triggered Brexit and on the 23rd June the country voted to leave the European Union. I had not realised that my becoming chairman would have this effect on the country, but as yet has had little effect on Pattishall!
John Woollett was thanked for his lengthy term as Chairman and for his many years as a Councillor. For the time being he has returned to the back benches.
The Parish Plan2 group summarised their culminations for new housing in the parish with no other issues addressed such as the environment, support of local businesses, amenity improvements and the safeguarding of our school. Various land owners around the village offered their land to be included within the new confines to help satisfy the need for new houses. A submission on the recommended changes to the parish confines was made to South Northants Council by the allotted date of 17th June.
In an effort to share responsibility each Councillor was allocated a portfolio for which they would be accountable, this has proved to be a terrific success. The community can identify with this and each Councillor has stepped up to the mark and contributed to the smooth running of this Parish Council.
Finance: Roger Clarke and Ann Addison
Newsletter contribution: Barry Evans
Trees and hedges: John Woollett
Grass cutting: David Keeble
Highways: David Hodges
Maintenance: Robert Hart
Planning: Mark Mitton
Allotments: John Woollett
School liaison: Rachel Gardener
Lighting: Gabriel Abraham
Playing Field Safety Inspection All on rota
Various planning issues have been considered during the year in particular the Davidson Development off Fosters Booth Road. The Council voted against this and others that were currently outside the parish confines.
The Red Lion application once again was raised with the Council voting not to support the application for knocking the pub down and building five dwellings in its place.
A temporary ‘stop’ notice on a plot off Fosters Booth Road continues to be monitored.
During the year the Council undertook to review the mowing maintenance of the parish because the last year had been on a more ad-hoc basis. This coincided with a rampant growing season, the grass got too long and members of the community were complaining. Within the review (which in April 17) is about to be finalised, new areas were taken on board, the playing field away from to Playing Field Association (an additional contribution to the parish) the Church Yard and the Old Burial Ground (a further contribution to the parish) all are about to be embossed onto a map. This will enable us in the future when considering other contractors to have a document that describes every mowing area and the regularity of cuts. All this has obviously come at a cost and for the first time in many years we increased the parish precept. The outcome of this however, is numerous compliments on the mowing procedure.
Having undertaken the mowing and clearing of the Churchyard and the Old Burial Ground some unsafe headstones and tombs have been uncovered. Having identified the unsafe headstones and tombs It becomes our duty to inform the PCC who become liable for any injury sustained by such an unsafe structure. An email has been sent to the Rector and the PCC’s nominated Health and Safety representative.
The Parish Council manages its finances well operating within the parameters laid down by law. The Parish Council continues to finance Around Pattishall the by-monthly bulletin that is circulated to each house, keeping the community informed of what the 40 or so organisations in the parish are doing. Similarly, the website the current modern medium for communication is also financed through the Parish Council. We have supported the community as we are allowed on what use to be called the penny rate. The school with new toilets and a Defribulator installed at the school but of course for public use. The Council has provided a starting fund for the Picnic in the Park music festival.
The Parish Council is very conscious of rising costs and continually compares electricity charges with other suppliers and challenges our Insurance Broker to check that we do not over cover ourselves.
We applied for and received a £1000 grant from SNC to help with our Churchyard mowing costs.
A member of the community attended a Parish Council meeting to seek support for the provision of a plaque to commemorate the Eastcote Prisoner of War Camp. Peter Stratton has already received donations from the Royal British Legion and from ‘talks’ he gives to local groups. The Council agreed to support the project and requested cost estimates.
Maintenance has been on going throughout the year, benches repaired, dog waste bins replaced, a notice board is in the process of being replaced, street lights remain an on- going issue with repairs and renewals. The roundabout wheel on the playing field showed early signs of distress which needed attention and currently the zip wire is out of commission through wilful damage, but the repair is in-hand. Birds Hill footpath has been improved by self-help. A local Civil Engineer volunteered his professional services free if we paid for the tarmac. A team of volunteers dug back the overgrown verge and new tarmac laid and rolled to provide a nice wide path enabling Mums and push chairs to use the path safely. Swings in the play areas are waiting for new seats which we hope will be with s shortly. We have applied to have a new VAS post installed in the hollow of Birds Hill Road on which we can occasionally mount the mobile VAS machine. We are waiting with baited breath for NCC to install the post.
We are in the final throws of owning the telephone box in Eastcote.
Two members of our community were invited to a Special Tea organised by the Chairman of SNC in recognition of their volunteering efforts, Barbara Parkinson for her Scout involvement and Iris Illingworth for the work she has done in refurbishing the Parish Hall.
A complaint was made through the Parish Council about four Councillors this was referred to the Head of Law and Governance at South Northants Council. He together with two Independent adjudicators considered the complaint and found that there was no breach of the Code of Conduct as the four Councillors were acting in their capacity as members of the community and not as Parish Councillors. This relates to the Parish Plan 2 committee which was not a committee formed by the Parish Council. Had it on the other hand been the Neighbourhood Plan Committee the outcome would have been different. This matter is now closed.
The Parish Council have registered the parish as a Neighbourhood Area this is the first stage in going forward if we so choose to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan, for example, like Kislingbury.
Roads throughout the parish remain in a very poor state with the Dalscote to Tiffield stretch being almost unusable by normal motor cars and within the estate of Pattishall, Leys Road, Festival Road and Blacksmiths Court are dreadful. As I speak however, Orchard Court is a changed place, new road surface and new paths, terrific.
The reason for the roads being as they are is because the County Council just do not have funds. Last year the budget for the 70+ villages in South Northants was £1m, just to give you an idea of how far that goes, the estimate for repairing the Dalscote to Tiffield stretch a few years ago was £90,000 that reduces the amount available to the other parishes!
NCC are at the beginning of a new financial year with a much increased budget and a new method of repairing roads more have been repaired already than the whole of last year!
As the year progressed an initiative from the Parish Council has seen a new group form, The Allotment Association. A keen group of enthusiasts have formed a committee with officers in place and an action programme.
A particular issue was raised through the Parish Council relating to safety at the school gate! Cars were double parking and drivers were becoming aggressive with children being endangered. The chairman made contact with the SNC Police committee with an immediate result. A WPSO appeared the following day, she made an appointment with the Head Teacher to attend the following week and speak to children and parents alike on road safety. She has done this on more than one occasion there have been no further reports of misconduct.
We should record that Councillors Joan Kirkbride is retiring after many years service as our County Councillors.
Roger Clarke as portfolio holder for Planning and the Environment together with Sandi Smallman continue to be the Ward Councillors for South Northants Council.
I would like to thank all Councillors for their support during the year and for all their hard work. We all know when one volunteers for anything you put your head above the parapet and sometimes it gets shot at, even so the effort this Council puts in to look after the infrastructure for the community I am sure is appreciated. Your reward may come in heaven!
Finally my thanks to our ultra- efficient Parish Clerk Ann who guides us with her wisdom and who is shortly off to Hong Kong, many thanks.
Roger Clarke 13 April 2017