WALBERTON PARISH ANNUAL MEETING 25th April 2017
PARISH COUNCIL CHAIRMAN’S REPORT.
Thank you firstly for taking time to join us this evening and we hope you will find it interesting.
I was elected Chairman of the council last May and it has been a challenging year combining the roles of chairing both the Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.
To add to the workload as you know unfortunately Ray was taken ill last October. His knowledge of our parish, procedures and so many things has been sorely missed and the team have all had to step up to help.
We offered a temporary Acting Clerk contract in November to Andy Peppler who has had what we called a steep, but he referred to as a vertical learning curve, but he has worked with professionalism and a smile throughout, for which we thank him.
I would like to thank all Parish councillors and the Neighbourhood Plan team for their unwavering support. We’re proud of what we have achieved.
The council has three committees, Planning, General Purpose and Finance. There are several other committees such as Neighbourhood Plan, community resilience and organising village events.
The Planning Committee
Fortunately, Edmund Camerer Cuss has continued as chairman of the Planning Committee. Apart from the normal new building and extensions, conservatories, and tree pruning applications, the continuing challenge for Edmund and his team was the application from Dandara to build 400 homes on Fontwell Meadows.
As many of you know the application was “called in” at the request of both Eastergate and Walberton Parish Councils. Once Arun designated this sate as strategic we realised that a compromise had to be reached and were happy with the outcome of 11 acres of Open Space to be transferred to the Parish Council. We will know the outcome by the 6th July.
After this meeting there will be an opportunity to find out more about the Arun Local Plan and other threats to our villages.
Challenges abound and you will hear more later. As you know we set up the POP (Protect our Parish) fund and the money has been put to very good use and will continue to do so. To help fund these additional legal costs, the precept for the next financial year has been increased by the equivalent of about 12p per Band D household per week.
The POP fund has been well supported with £6,109 donated by you in addition to a total of £20,000 from the Parish Council and £2,800 from the WalBinFont weekend. However, we will need much more to fund the challenges ahead. Donation slips and a box are by the door.
The General Purposes Committee.
Andy called this the “almost everything else” committee! He was right and for some reason I drew the short straw and have continued to chair this with the help of Sue Wallsgrove as vice chairman taking responsibility for all our “Green” projects!
Agenda items include management and bookings for the Pavilion and playing field, Sussex Police and security, Walberton Task Force, Community resilience including flooding, Playing Field and Car Park, Play Areas, Village Pond and Green, the Pound, Allotments, street lights, rights of way, bus shelters, dog bins, trees, hedgerows and overgrown vegetation.
Completed projects include the new bus shelter and notice board by Walberton Park, a new roof for the bus shelter by Barrack Row, installation at last of both defibrillators, 2 new bench seats, rubbish bin, 2 new pieces of play equipment installed and repairs to fencing and equipment in or by Walberton play area, repairs to the bench seat opposite Maple Parade, partial demolition of the dangerous wall & new fencing by the twitten, a new finger post at the top of Wandleys Lane, new double glazing and front double doors to this building and a refurbished notice board, following vandalism, with grateful thanks to Keith Perry. Ongoing repairs to the post and rail fencing round The Green.
Plans are underway with grant applications having been made for the remainder of this building to be double glazed, 3 new external doors, improved loft insulation, new curtains and energy efficient heaters. And for those of you standing – new chairs and more of them!
Some of the work has been funded by grants that Richard Strickland, Sue Wallsgrove and Andy Peppler have, and are continuing to, work hard to secure. We have also used the income from the Solar Farm.
The “WalBinFont weekend” last July was a resounding success with help from many people. So much so that we were asked if this was to be an annual event! The team agreed to make it bi annual but in the intervening year we’re planning a music evening – more of that from Marc later.
The Finance Committee
Richard Strickland took over as chairman of the finance committee and, like Andy in Ray’s absence, has had a steep learning curve but has implemented several improved processes.
The committee keeps a tight rein on expenditure and ensures we get value for your money and controlling the budgets.
Whereas a number of unexpected costs during the financial year just ended resulted in expenditure exceeding budget, earnings were also more positive, so the overall position, taking all factors into account, was satisfactory.
Wednesday 1st February dawned dull and drizzly but that didn’t dampen your spirits and you came out in droves to vote in our referendum. Thank you all – 48.17% – the highest turnout in Arun district with a massive 95.66% Yes vote.
Having a Plan which is now a legal planning document helps us with future battles – of which there are many. These include persuading Arun not to dump nearly 400 more homes in our Parish. Fortunately the Neighbourhood Plan team have agreed to stay on and continue their important work.
We produced the Tuppers Field petition, asking Arun to designate this as a Local Green Space securing 1,110 signatures – you really showed how much you care!
In addition to attending committee and sub committee meetings councillors take on responsibilities to represent various other village organisations.
Bob Rogers reports on Walberton Task Force, keeping us up to date on their valuable work around the villages. He is also the Allotment representative and is involved in the preparation of our year end accounts.
Marc Mitchell joined us last July and is now the council representative on the Village Hall committee. He has also taken over responsibility for the Community Resilience team who are working hard on ensuring that we have the necessary resources in case of an emergency. They are also responsible for flooding for which we have already received a grant this year of almost £7,000 with more to come.
Sue Wallsgrove represents us on the Joint Downland Area Committee making sure our voice is listened to by a wider audience and keeping a close eye on grant availabilities. She is also our contact with the South Downs National Park and helped set up our defibrillator training sessions
Richard Strickland is the author of the Parish Council News section in the Parish News and is a coordinator of Speed watch with Kevin Durban-Jackson. Over a 4 month period 676 cars were caught speeding and 3 at more than 47 mph.
Richard Moores is our trustee on the Community Play Centre committee.
We intend continuing to publish “Neighbourhood News” following excellent feedback from you all and our thanks go to Angela English for interpreting our wishes in to easily readable text and graphics.
We have good and bad news. Jenny Parsons has, fortunately for her, but unfortunately for us, been lured back to work by her former employer so regretfully she has resigned as a councillor. We are about to formally advertise the vacancy but would you consider joining our team?
We are also always looking for volunteers to help with short-term projects such as the WalBinFont music event in July or longer term commitments like the recently set up Community Resilience Plan. If you are interested in helping please contact our Acting Clerk, Andy Peppler or any councillor.
You have a strong and committed Parish Council dedicated to producing what you, the people of the Parish want. Help is always welcome. Don’t forget all our meetings are open to the public with an opportunity to ask questions.
Thank you all for your continuing support
Suzanne Clark – Chairman Walberton Parish Council.
25th April 2017