Chairmans Report. April 2019.
I would firstly like to take a few moments to mention my fellow councillors for their efforts and support throughout the last year, my eighth as Chairman. A really special mention, as always, for Roy Beckley; Roy has, as always, 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 marking of the 100th. anniversary of the end of World War 1 last autumn, the publication of the commemorative booklet which was delivered to all Parishioners and the event we arranged to recognise that, which was extremely well attended and I’m sure everyone enjoyed.
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 community.
Councillors recently completed a litter pick, which yielded more than a dozen black sacks of discarded items from our verges and roadsides; special thanks go to Maisie and Nick Wright who drew what seems to be the short straw of the top end of Britons Lane and collected by far the majority of the litter.
I also want to make special mention of Peter Bullimore, our Clerk, who does a superb job on behalf of the Council and the Parish, and I think I am correct in saying, has now been with us for 22 years. Peter is a SILCA qualified Clerk and does a superb job of keeping us compliant, and also puts a lot of his personal time into 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. As you will be aware, the four year term has almost come to an end and we will shortly have an election to select, or re-select, the Parish Council. That will be on the 2nd of May, the same day as the District Council elections; 10 of our current members are standing again, and as it is in effect not just one, but eleven elections, voters will have the perhaps unenviable task of selecting up to eleven from the twelve persons nominated. I will say that I am quite pleased that we have such an interest in our Council; there are only 11 parishes out of the 120 or so within the district that had sufficient nominations to actually require an election, and a considerable number that have been elected unopposed but are barely quorate. Democracy is alive and well in Beeston Regis.
Now on to financial matters.
Your Parish Council operates solely on an annual precept, collected by the District Council as part of your council tax. For the coming year 2018/19, we have set a total precept of £12,000, which includes some £879 which relates to the Council Tax Support grant.
We were pleased to be able to agree a slight decrease in the precept this year, and we are still operating at the same level as ten years ago. The main contributor to our ability to achieve this was the replacement of the street lighting throughout the Parish a few years ago, 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 Council Tax Bill for residents of Beeston Regis shows a decrease of just over 5% in the Parish element, and an annual figure for a Band C property of under £25.00.
On glancing through precept levels across the district, Beeston Regis falls well 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 again this year and a comparative figure for a Band C property is some £50 per annum higher, almost three times as much. What I am confident in saying is that I don’t know of another Parish in the District that has consistently kept it’s precept in at the same level, as we have over the past 10 years.
I appreciate that the Parish element is only a small element of your overall Council Tax bill, and there were increases in both the County, District and Police precepts, but at least we tried hard to keep the cost down.
The Council has continued to bear the initial cost of keeping the Parish looking tidy in terms of grass verge cutting. We have continues with our contractor, Secret Gardens, and they continue to perform well at a very reasonable cost. In fact I am again pleased to report that when we take into account the amount that the County Council grants us for what are termed “safety cuts” we are able to recoup all of our annual costs in that respect. The same result has been achieved in regard to the road sign cleaning, which is something we also take care of. We also pay for the emptying of five of our dog bins; there are a number of dog bins (I believe another nine) situated around the perimeter of the caravan park – probably worthy of note that these are provided and emptied by the caravan park themselves.
We will as usual circulate full accounts for the year just ended, which will be published in the next issue of Beeston Regis News, but Peter will be completing them shortly and I can report that we succeeded in operating within our set budget for 2018/19.
We have continued to monitor the Public Footpaths and pavements etc., within Beeston Regis, and thanks to various members we do monitor all of our Public Rights of Way. Any issues that are noted or reported and need addressing are reported 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 original scheme that expired in January 2014, and after much deliberation among the powers that be, new criteria were finally established for a replacement scheme. We were delighted to be awarded the Foundation level in our assessment a couple of years back, and I am pleased to report that we have now achieved the higher level again, and we are once more a “Quality” standard Council. Of the over 400 Parish and Town councils in Norfolk, and less than 20 have acquired this status.
We purchased the redundant telephone box at the corner of Britons Lane last year with a view to installing a defibrillator in it. Most of you will be aware that this has now been installed and is active. We held an introductory evening here a couple of weeks ago for parishioners that wanted to find out a bit more about it and the Parish Council will monitor it regularly to ensure it remains in full working order. Whilst one hopes that it may never be used, it could prove the difference between life and death for someone in the village.
For the record, the cost of the defibrillator itself was just short of £1900 and was funded entirely by a grant from the Hooke charity; the Parish Council merely contributed the cost of the installation, etc., approximately £200. We hope shortly to tidy up the kiosk with some fresh panels to make it a little more attractive in such a prominent position in the village.