Chairmans Report. May 2016.
I would firstly like to mention my fellow councillors for their efforts and support throughout the last year, my sixth as Chairman. In particular to Roy Beckley; Roy has once again spent a great deal of his personal time attending meetings on behalf of the Parish, most notably on matters concerning coast defence and the new Coastal Path, as well as representing the Council’s views to District on various planning matters That is not to forget the other members, all of whom play very important parts in what we do, and attend many outside meetings in their own time, such as the Safer Neighbourhood Panel, Sheringham Preservation Society, Church Matters, Charity concerns, Highways issues and various other subjects that affect the residents of this and, in some cases, the wider community. After last May’s elections, we welcomed three new members to the Parish Council: Nicky Wright, Ralph Smith and Sue Goodwin. Sue has done an enormous amount of work on governance matters, with a view to the Council achieving the Local Council Award, which replaced the previous Quality Council Scheme. I must also mention Councillor Chris Goodwin for his work on our website and social media presence, which Chris looks after virtually unaided by the rest of us.
And of course, we have a very able steward in our clerk, Peter Bullimore, who does a superb job on behalf of the Council and the Parish.
Now on to financial matters.
Beeston Regis Parish Council operates almost solely on an annual precept, collected by the District Council as part of your council tax. For the coming year 2016/17 we have set a precept of £13,200, which includes some £1,167 relating to the Council tax Support scheme grant. That is a small reduction from the previous year’s figures.
I think the average Council Tax Bill for residents of Beeston Regis shows a small decrease in the Parish element and an annual figure for a Band C property of something around £29.00.
On looking through precept levels across the whole district, Beeston Regis falls pretty much centrally on the list, and we could be a lot worse off, our near neighbours in Sheringham have had significant increases imposed in each of the last two years, and the comparative figure for a Band C property there is now more than £50 per annum higher than in Beeston.
We will of course provide full accounts for the year just ended, which will be published in the next issue of Beeston Regis News, but draft accounts indicate that the Council succeeded in operating comfortably within its budget for 2015/16.
The Council has continued to bear the cost of keeping the Parish looking tidy in terms of grass verge cutting. You may be aware that the District Council curtailed their responsibilities for that function a number of years ago. Our contractor, Secret Gardens, has again performed very well, and once again, I am pleased to report that when we take into account the amount that the County Council grants us to cover what are termed “safety cuts” we are able to recoup all of our costs in that regard. With a little help from two of the businesses within the Parish, I think we generally have quite a tidy looking environment.
Councillors recently carried out a Parish-wide litter pick, featured in the North Norfolk News, all of which helps the situation.
We also have responsibility for cleaning the road signs within the Parish. Again, the County make an allowance towards the cost of this and by judicial management that allowance just happens to cover the contractor’s costs.
A number of items have been suggested for discussion later in the meeting, but I will take the opportunity to update you on a couple of the matters that have been before the Council in the past year or so.
Two matters that are on the very near horizon are the Queen’s 90th Birthday and the 800th Anniversary of St Mary’s Priory. The Council decided at a recent meeting to purchase a number of commemorative medals in order to give one to each of the school age children in the Parish as a memento of the Sovereign’s birthday.
The Anniversary of the Priory is looking like it will be quite an event, with lots planned, including a visit from the Bishop of Norwich and various displays. The date is the 6th. August, and I think we should record our thanks to Stephen Pegg from Abbey Farm, who has been very instrumental in organising the events, and also Roy (again) who is producing a commemorative booklet.
Residents will, I am sure, have come across our new Vehicle Activated Speed Sign which was installed during the past year. Basically, it indicates the speed of approaching vehicles and issues a “Slow Down” message if that vehicle is exceeding the speed limit. We have identified six locations for the sign throughout the Parish and it is relocated approximately every four weeks. Hopefully it will continue to have some effect towards reducing excessive speed. I should clarify that the cost was part funded by the County Council under their Highways Improvement Scheme.
Affordable Housing is still on our agenda, as it has been ever since I joined the Council many years ago. We were, and still are, hopeful of making some headway with the matter, but the wheels grind very slowly sometimes, and I have nothing positive to report, other than the scheme we are proposing is still ongoing, and we sincerely hope will eventually result a positive outcome.
We have installed a seat and picnic table at Daisy Green, the grassed area in Caxton Park that we purchased just over a year ago, and also a handrail on the steps to the common from that area, to help with access on to the Common. We are still open to any innovative suggestions as to how we might utilise the area more fully for the benefit of the Parish, but considering the outlay involved in the original purchase, even if nothing comes forward, I don’t think the princely sum of £1.00 will have been wasted.
We have continued to monitor the Public Footpaths within Beeston Regis, and have periodically reported any issues that need addressing to the responsible body, which is the County Council.
That is really about it from me; I hope I haven’t forgotten anything of note.
Thank you once again for attending, if there are any questions about anything I have mentioned, I am happy to take them, otherwise we will move on to the next item.