Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to our Annual Parish Meeting,
Once again, it is nice to see you here, thank you for attending.
Just by way of introduction, and clarification, my name is Mike Knowles and I am the Chairman of the Parish Council. Most of our Councillors are also here, and we are joined by
I am also your District Councillor, so I shall be wearing two hats this evening. Some topics that relate to Beeston, but are also relative to the District as a whole will appear in my second report a little later.
For now, I will talk about some things that the Council has been involved in during the past year and a few matters that are possibly on the horizon, but essentially this is a meeting for our Parishioners to come along and have their say, so please feel free to raise any topic that you think we should be addressing when we get to that point later in the evening.
Chairmans Report. May 2017.
I would firstly like to take a few moments to mention my fellow councillors for their efforts and support throughout the last year, my seventh as Chairman. A special mention, as always, for Roy Beckley; Roy has once again spent a great deal of his personal time on Parish Council matters, both attending meetings on behalf of the Parish, most notably on the Coastal Forum, but also being the driving force behind much of what we have achieved in the past year. Not least the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the Priory last summer, and the event we have tomorrow to recognise 60 years of the Council.
Also to Sue and Chris Goodwin, who have worked hard to put this evening’s programme together, which I am sure will offer something of interest to everyone here.
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.
I must also make a mention of Peter Bullimore, our Clerk, who does a superb job on behalf of the Council and the Parish.
On the subject of Councillors, we have managed for much of the last few years to keep to our full complement of eleven members. We do however have at least one
vacancy in the offing, so we will be looking to co-opt someone to join us. If anyone is interested, please have a word with either myself or Peter, our Clerk, after the meeting.
60 years ago next week, on May 29th. 1957, the very first meeting of Beeston Regis Parish Council took place. It was held in the Erpingham RDC offices in Sheringham, and that inaugural council consisted of seven members. Prior to that, the Parish had operated under the Annual Parish Meeting system – just like this meeting this evening – but had no formal body as such. A short quote from the then Chairman of the Parish Meeting, from the minutes – “he said this was a great occasion, but something they had fought against for years. In the Parish Meeting we carried along happily and I think successfully, but now the law has forced its measure upon us”. From memory, I think Beeston probably had something like 50 or 60 residential properties at that time – a far cry from where we are now with around 500.
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 2017/18 we have set a precept of £12,500, which includes some £1039 relating to the Council tax Support grant.
We were pleased to be able to agree a reduction in the precept this year, and we are now still below the levels of six or seven years ago; the last time we set a precept this low was in fact 2008/9. The main contributor to our ability to do this has been the replacement of the street lighting throughout the Parish, which continues to provide good value and effectively save us money, yet provide residents with efficient lighting throughout the hours of darkness.
I think the average Council Tax Bill for residents of Beeston Regis shows a welcome decrease in the Parish element of 7%, and an annual figure for a Band C property of something just over £26.00.
On looking through precept levels across the district, Beeston Regis falls below the average on the list, and we could be a lot worse off, our near neighbours in Sheringham have had significant increases imposed in recent years, and the comparative figure for a Band C property is some £ per annum higher. What I am confident in saying is that I don’t know of another Parish in the District that has consistently reduced it’s precept in the way that we have over the past few years.
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 within its budget for 2016/17.
The Council has continued to bear the initial cost of keeping the Parish looking tidy in terms of grass verge cutting. 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 allows us for what are termed “safety cuts” we are able to recoup all of our costs in that regard, and the same result has been achieved in regard to the road sign cleaning.
Affordable Housing has been a constant on our agenda ever since I joined the Council some 12 years or so ago, but we have never been able to make any headway. I did report last year that we were attempting to push forward a scheme that could well result in a positive outcome, and you will have seen the proposal for new homes on the piece of land alongside the A148 opposite the Priory Maze. Although this scheme was well received in most quarters and was supported by the strategic housing department at District level, we were confronted with obstacles which we were unable to overcome and that has now stalled I am sad to say. However it remains on our wish-list and rest assured that any opportunity that presents will be fully explored. It may be of interest to note that at the time of that application, there were some 2500 applicants on the NNDC Housing Register, and 19 that were from either this Parish or neighbouring ones that were in the category of “most in need”.
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.
We were delighted a few years back to achieve our Quality Parish Status. Due to the closure of the scheme, that expired in January 2014, and after much deliberation among the powers that be, new criteria was finally established for a replacement scheme. Well, we have been through the mill on this one for most of the last year, but I am pleased to report that we have very recently passed the Local Council Award Scheme. This involves a very rigorous audit of all of our procedures and management and Beeston Regis is one of only
That is really about it from me, thank you once again for attending, if there are any questions about anything I have just covered, I am happy to take them, otherwise we will move on to the next item.