Home » Parish Council Meeting Notes » Chairman’s Report 2016

Report presented to the Annual Parish Meeting March 2016

The current parish council took office in May last year, and of the 7 councillors only 2 returned from the previous council. Of the five of us who were new, four had no previous parish council experience at all but, given that we are such a small council there is no real opportunity to ease yourself gently in. Being on the parish council is different to belonging to any other organisation because, as a member of a local authority, you are very confined by rules and regulations which are sometimes frustrating, but hopefully with the help of the clerk we are now all up to speed.

The big topic back in May was the mobile mast and this had obviously been the subject of much heated debate over the previous few months.

A parish poll was called for at a meeting held in the week between the parish election and the new councillors taking office and this poll took place in June. We were informed that investigations into site 10, off Horses Ash lane, were taking place but information from Harlequin and Arqiva was very sparse and in September the council learned that the Mobile Infrastructure Programme was to end and we would not be getting a mast.

One thing which became obvious during the debates was that there was a demand from many people for an improved phone signal and the council is still anxious to do what it can to improve mobile signal in the village. We will be closely following the outcome of a meeting which is taking place at the county council with the mobile operators chaired by Paul Hodgkinson and for any of you who haven’t seen it, Matt Fulford has put together a paper which outlines the various options which could help and it’s well worth a read. You can find it on our website.

There was some good news on the communications front in June when we were informed that Gigaclear had won the contract to provide ultrafast fibre broadband to the area. They have been working around the village since just before Christmas and I understand that the first properties will soon be going live.

In June Paul Hodgkinson told us that he had money available to encourage sport and physical activity across his area and he was anxious some should be spent in this village so, with the help of Alan McLellan, we decided to apply for a 100% grant to provide outdoor gym equipment which is proving extremely popular in parks all over the country. We were successful and hopefully you will have seen that it is now in place, fits in well and we have received many positive comments about it.

Many items appear on our agendas month after month, and in some cases year after year.

Affordable Housing is one of these – housing needs surveys carried out over the years have shown a need but the challenge is always to find a site which is acceptable to the village and also provide the type of housing which fits the requirements.

Back in the summer, the council was approached by Tim Hamilton from Manor Farm about the possibility of providing housing on Fields Road adjacent to the parish council land. He has told the council that he will not proceed if the scheme does not have the support of the village and the parish council has offered to host a public meeting at which the plans can be explained. At our last meeting it was reported that Mr Hamilton would like a new housing needs survey to be carried out before he progresses the plans. The planning situation is changing constantly at the moment while the new local plan is being prepared and it may well be that it is sensible to wait until things become clearer before taking any further steps. Whatever the outcome of Mr Hamilton’s deliberations the parish council is committed to ensuring that the village is made aware of what is being proposed and to giving everyone a chance to express their opinion on any scheme.

The idea of preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan was put forward by Ian Morgan and we held a meeting in the autumn when Development Plans were explained and a further meeting was held when those who had expressed an interest in being involved were given additional information.

The big problem with the plans is the amount of work required to create what becomes an official planning document which has to be approved by independent inspectors and the parish council did not feel that there were sufficient volunteers in order to be able to put a plan together. While looking into Neighbourhood Plans the view was expressed that the council should find out exactly what villagers wanted for Chedworth and we are currently looking into the possibility of preparing a questionnaire which would include questions about housing and other relevant topics.

The previous council had done a great deal of work trying to solve the problem of parking around the school and we have continued this with Clive Poulton taking on the challenge. With a great deal of persuasion on Clive’s part the county highways have now completed all the line painting around the school and hopefully with the encouragement of the school, parents can be persuaded to comply with the parking restrictions.

Parking around the Church and Manor has also been raised as an issue with fears that emergency vehicles would be unable to access Church Row or Courts Close when events at the church or pub attract a lot of vehicles and we have agreed to set up a meeting with the church, pub, local residents and other interested parties to try to come up with practical solutions to the problem.

Footpaths also have a constant slot on our agendas and we have received a couple of requests in the past nine months from home owners who wish to close or divert existing paths. While we don’t want to be unreasonable the parish council has resisted request for closures. In an effort to keep our paths clear we have also set up a group of Footpath Wardens who will hopefully keep a close eye on the many miles of Rights of Way and report to us before the problems become too severe. Adrian Bell is the councillor who is liaising with the wardens and I am sure he would welcome more volunteers.

Grass verges are also a regular cause of problems for us. The county council is unable to carry out as many cuts as in previous years so we get complaints about how untidy the village is, and how dangerous some junctions are, while, on the other hand, there are those who would like verges to be left to grow as conservation verges which in itself requires far more manpower as all cuttings have to be removed. We are currently drawing up a verge management plan.

The overflowing manhole on Tuns Hill has forced the closure of the road on many occasions through the winter and although the county has carried out some work to try to resolve it the problem remains. The solution requires capital spending by the county and the project will have to compete with others around Gloucestershire for a share of the limited budget.

One important initiative which the council has put in place is the new emergency telephone system designed to help anyone who needs a defibrillator but is alone with a casualty. This arose from the defibrillator training session which we organised at the village hall which was extremely useful.  Known as VETS, the Village Emergency Telephone system, there is a single number which immediately calls 10 volunteers around the village. So far, as far as I am aware, none of the defibrillators have been used and hopefully they won’t be needed but it is good to know that they will now also be available to people on their own with a casualty. The number to call is 610230

One of our first priorities as a parish council was to improve the way in which we communicate with the village and we have tried very hard to do this. We now have a new website thanks to Iain Robertson which we hope is easier to navigate and we try to ensure that there is a regular comprehensive report in the Hill and Valley each month as well as posting important information on the noticeboards but my final plea to everyone would be to make sure that you do your part so that if you are unhappy about something we are doing, or not doing, then please tell us.

Ros Jess

One thought on “Chairman’s Report 2016

  1. David Musgrave says:

    Dear Ross

    Thank you for for your comprehensive and balanced report.

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