Chairmans Report. April 2011.
I must firstly express my thanks to my fellow councillors for their efforts and support throughout the last year, my first as Chairman. In particular to my vice chairman, Roy Beckley, whose experience in his previous role as Chair has been most helpful, and I must not forget to mention Peter Bullimore, our Clerk, who does a superb job on behalf of the Council and the Parish.
On the subject of Councillors, you will undoubtedly have noticed that we are shortly to have a number of local elections. You will also be aware that there is no election necessary for Beeston Regis Parish Council, but I am pleased to confirm that all ten of the existing members have put themselves forward for another term. We will unfortunately still be in the position of being one short of our full quota of eleven, and I would like to just mention at this point that if any parishioner would like to consider putting themselves forward to fill that vacancy, we will be more than happy to consider a co-option; please contact either myself or the Clerk at any time.
Beeston Regis Parish Council operates on an annual precept, collected as part of your council tax, and for the coming year 2011/12, it was decided to adopt a “standstill” budget, keeping the precept at a figure of £13000.
To put that figure into context, it equates to approximately £31.00 per property, based on a band D council tax rating, or around 30p per week per resident.
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 well within budget for 2010/11.
Apart from the Clerks salary, by far the most significant item of expenditure continues to be on street lighting, and to reiterate the point made in previous years, I would remind residents that Beeston Regis Parish Council is the proud, or possibly not so proud, owner of some 58 street lights in the parish, and the reality is that a significant proportion of that lighting stock is quite old. As lights fail, or deteriorate to a point where safety is compromised, we will continue to be faced with the cost of replacement of lantern tops or indeed, as was the case this last winter, complete lamp standards. The replacement of the lamp standard near the entrance to Priory Close incurred a total cost of £1450 + VAT, an amount which I am afraid comes directly and totally from the precept collected from within the Parish.
We do have one other small source of income, the bottle bank at the bottom of Britons Lane, which continues to be well used and has again provided around £300 towards the Council’s finances.
A number of items have been mooted for discussion later in the meeting, but I will take the opportunity to update you on some of the matters that have been before the Council in the past year.
Those of you who live nearby or use the Common regularly will have noted that Sheringham Town Council have over the winter carried out some clearance work on the western side of the drainage ditch that separates Abbey and Caxton Parks from the common. Hopefully this has gone some way to alleviate the encroachment of undergrowth across the ditch and I have been told that they intend to maintain their side of the ditch on a regular basis. I am aware that there are still some issues appertaining to this ditch and all I can add at this point is that the Council is still desirous of seeking clarity on responsibility for certain sections of that ditch.
We have again tried to progress this issue with the relevant authorities, and will continue to do so. Sadly, it seems to have been a case of one step forward, followed by the inevitable step back, and despite our efforts we have no tangible progress to report.
Car Boot Sales.
I am pleased to report that there is light at the end of the tunnel on this issue. You may be aware that planning permission was granted for an additional entrance to Mr Cook’s field. This was following consultation with County Highways, and we understand the planned works are in their schedule, and it is hoped that when completed, access and egress to the field will become much easier and will alleviate the traffic and parking problems. This leads nicely on to the next item, which concerns the use of the field for Sheringham Carnival events. The council was pleased that the events of last year largely went by without any untoward hitches and I can confirm that the Carnival Committee intends to make use of the field for some of this year’s events. We have established good communications with the Carnival Committee and I am pleased to report that we have the opportunity for input where necessary. I am told that the Carnival was once saddled with the rather longwinded title of “Sheringham and Beeston Regis Carnival”, although I must confess I cannot confirm that, let alone remember it!
The survey, consisting of some 66 questions, was hand delivered to every household in the Parish in mid-November. Completed forms were collected on 28th and 29th November.
A total of 517 surveys were delivered, and in total 314 were returned, a rate of return of almost 61%.
I must make mention here of the councillors and volunteers that put the effort into not only formulating and producing the questionnaire, but also delivering and collecting the forms, in particular Paul Kemp, who gave up a great deal of his own time to do so.
Given that the level of return was very consistent across the different areas of the Parish, we have presumed that the collated responses provide a fairly accurate reading of the overall population’s views, and the issues that were raised by the responses have been made known to the relevant bodies referred to. Where appropriate, the Parish Council has taken several of the points on board for future consideration, and indeed, several of the points emanating from the survey have been mooted for further discussion here this evening.
We have with us this evening PCSO Gary Baxter from the Sheringham Safer Neighbourhood Team and Gary will be speaking a little later. The council receives a monthly list of crimes in the parish which tends to indicate that we live in a relatively crime free area. It was encouraging to note that 97.5% of the respondents to the Parish Survey felt safe in their home, but I am sure that Gary will have some thoughts on how even that remarkable figure might be improved.
Apart from the specific items I have already mentioned I and my councillors continue to attend many meetings throughout the year on a wide variety of subjects including Sheringham Preservation Society, Church Matters, Various Charity concerns, Area and Community Partnerships, and we consult as appropriate with relevant authorities such as District and County Councils on many and varied matters.