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Parish Council Annual Parish Meeting

Annual meeting


The Parish Council holds it's Annual Parish Meeting each May. At the Annual Parish Meeting the Chairman delivers his Annual Report and Clubs and Societies are welcomed to give reports of their activities over the year and discuss any issues of concern to them.

The minutes below are in draft form for approval at the next Annual Parish Meeting
 

Little Gaddesden Parish Council

 

MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE ELECTORATE

HELD IN THE VILLAGE HALL

on MONDAY 21st MAY 2018 commencing at 8pm

 

PRESENT: Cllrs. Archer (Chairman), Heaphy, Hyde, Irving, Kelly.  Also in attendance, Alastair Greene (Clerk), County & District Councillor Terry Douris, and eight members of the public.

  

APOLOGIES:  Cllr. Hargreaves

1. WELCOME – Cllr. Archer welcomed the public to the meeting and acted as Chair for the meeting.

 

2. MINUTES - The minutes of the Annual Meeting dated 15th May 2017 were approved as drafted.

 

3.   ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PARISH COUNCIL

 

The Chairman read out the report:

Good evening and welcome to the Annual Meeting.  This report covers the activities of your Council for the year ended 31 March 2018.  I propose to go through the key areas and then invite questions and allow time for some discussion.

 

By way of introduction, I want to make some high-level remarks on the character and status of our village.  We are very fortunate in many ways that we are designated as being in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as the core area of the village being a Conservation Area.  However, we need to work hard to preserve these designations as there is inevitably planning pressure, both locally and in terms of the Dacorum Core Strategy. 

 

The Council is focused on how best to comment on and influence the production of the Dacorum Local Plan and importantly we have put together a group to undertake a comprehensive Conservation Area Character Appraisal, or CACA, to identify and document what factors make up the special character of the Little Gaddesden and Ringshall Conservation Areas.  The purpose of the exercise is to consolidate our views on what makes Little Gaddesden (including Ringshall) special and resist any ideas that our village is capable of sustaining material further development.  Some of this is quite technical and has to do with how the village is designated for planning purposes. 

We will keep villagers informed of the progress of this work, which will be undertaken during 2018. 

 

We’ve had an active year and have made good progress on a number of fronts.

You may recall that we expended a lot of energy last year on the A4146 Water End HGV ban.  The consultation we commissioned and representations we made culminated in successful amendments to the scheme for the benefit of the village.  The scheme has taken longer to implement, owing to the need for three county councils to keep in step, but as we speak has just come into effect.  You may have noticed the signs in Nettleden and Ringshall, and at the bottom of Hudnall Lane.  Do report any rogue HGV vehicles in the area: however, those seeking legitimate access are clearly not banned!

 

While on the subject of traffic, the Speed Indicator Device (SID) was moved from its initial position at Cromer Close to the junction of Church Road and The Green.  It is shortly to be moved to its third fixed location opposite Chaselton on Ringshall Road.  This work is funded through the Locality Budget which Councillor Douris holds, and we are very grateful to him for this and other support he gives to our Council.  More work is needed in evaluating the impact of SID, but it is generally agreed that is has moderated the speed of vehicles through some areas of the village.

 

An environmental issue which has been a concern for some time now is the propensity for parts of lower Ringshall to flood. During the year, an issue with one of the new boreholes being blocked was dealt with, but the Council remains in discussion with the National Trust regarding the flow of surface water from the Ling which remains a problem.

Amenity improvements during the year included the installation of mains power to the War Memorial area of The Green, and improvement to the footpath linking Bede Court to Bridgewater Arms, this latter project being assisted by Jim Townsend and Richard Baker.

 

We continue to be concerned over safe routes to school and are investigating what possibilities might exist to make Hudnall Lane safe along its narrow section from Chapel Close to the junction with Nettleden Road. 

 

The project to restore and renovate the Marian Alford Memorial at the entrance to Ashridge is nearing completion.  We felled the trees behind the memorial (aided by the wind which brought one down!) with the intention of planting new cypress trees, which had formed the original screening when the memorial was first erected. The final stage is the cleaning of the memorial and seating, and this is planned to be undertaken in the coming weeks.

 

In my last report, I noted that we were working to improve our procedures for planning applications.  The Working Planning Group now meets monthly and presents it’s recommendations for the Council to consider.  This was an important change to our procedures in that the Council now considers all applications in public meeting.  However, the challenge continues to be the volume of applications, which this year numbered 64 (77 last year) and the fact that we are sometimes unable to meet the initial Dacorum timetable for response, requiring requests for an extension.   We keep the system under review.

 

Of the 64 applications, the Council objected to 10 applications (16%) but subsequently withdrew its objection from five after it accepted the advice of the Dacorum Planning Officer or amendments were made to your Council’s satisfaction. Of the remainder, one was withdrawn, one was refused, one was consented despite the Council’s objection, and two remain outstanding.

 

On the financial front, our annual expenditure is now around £40,000 of which £28,000 goes on open spaces and local infrastructure.  The rest goes on the Parish Clerk’s salary, legal, insurance and administrative charges.  The bulk of our expenditure is funded by a grant from Dacorum Borough Council and, as you know, the precept levied as part of Council Tax.  We also receive a small amount of other income, such as funds from grant awarding bodies and fees from film companies. 

 

This year the Council reviewed the precept for 2018/19.  Since 2009, the precept has remained unchanged and was actually levied at a lower level in Little Gaddesden than in the majority of other parishes right across Dacorum. 

For this year just started, we plan to spend £44,000 to sustain existing levels of investment in the community infrastructure and small improvement projects across the village, including pathways, tree works and play equipment that inevitably need maintenance and renewal.  In addition, a project is at an early stage to consider what teenage facilities might be provided in the village.

 

On the back of all this, your Council decided to increase the precept for 2018/19 by £3,000.  The effect of this has been to require Band D householders and Band H householders each to pay respectively around £5 and £10 more per annum.  In addition, we aim to invest significantly in the renewal of the Village Hall over the next 2-3 years.  The kitchen has had a make-over and the next phase will be to improve and reorder the toilets.  But we will continue to access community and capital grant funding from different sources to achieve this rather than levy a large increase in the precept.  Our reserves stood at £32,000 as at 31 March 2018 (they were at £35,000 at the end of 2016/17), £17,000 more than the Council believes we should maintain for unexpected eventualities. The excess of £17,000 has therefore been included in the budget to fund the projects I mentioned earlier.  H

 

Superfast Broadband continues to be rolled out in the village, with Cabinet 4 (Ringshall) going live in the year under review.  Only Cabinet 1 remains outstanding, the one at the junction of Hudnall Lane and Nettleden Road, and the Council remains in close discussion with BT.  There have been some wayleave issues with the land which are taking time to resolve.

 

In terms of administration and governance, the Council now takes full advantage of online banking, has introduced an equality policy, and is being trained on the new GDPR regulations – data protection.  We were pleased again to receive full approvals from both our internal and external auditors for 2016/17. In addition, our annual ROSPA inspection confirmed no urgent repairs were necessary.

 

Looking forward, we would like to create an independent Council website, a requirement for a ‘Quality’ Council.

 

We welcomed Kathryn Magson to the Council in June.  Kathryn is a senior NHS executive and we are delighted to have the benefit of her management and governance experience.

 

I am hugely grateful for the contribution and support of all Councillors in what has been an active and demanding year.  You devote many, many hours to the role.  It is much appreciated.  On a personal front, I was most grateful to Rob for stepping up to chair the Council last summer, but I must reserve my biggest thanks to our Clerk, Alastair Greene, who once again has been tireless in his efforts and routinely gives additional time to the work over and above his remunerated hours.  Alastair, thank you very much indeed.

 

I have informed my fellow Councillors that I will not be seeking re-election as Chair for the coming year, having completed three years in the post.  However, I will of course remain on the Council and do all I can to support my successor.

 

And to conclude, let me thank you, the village, for supporting us in so many ways.  Please continue to bring local matters and concerns to our attention. 

 

We will always do our best to resolve them on your behalf and help keep our village just the way that we all want it.  Not everything we do gets resolved but there are lots of challenges and opportunities ahead of us which your Council will, as always, embrace with dedication on your behalf.

 

Louise Archer – Chairman of the Parish Council

 

4. REPORT FROM THE TRUSTEES OF THE LITTLE GADDESDEN CHARITIES
 

Rob Irving read out the report:

The aim of the Charity as defined in the Charity Commissioners’ ”Scheme” which regulates its activities is to:-

 

“Relieve either generally or individually, persons resident in the Parish of Little Gaddesden who are in need, hardship or distress, by making grants of money or providing or paying for items, services or facilities calculated to redress the need, hardship or distress of such persons”

 

The Trustees during 2017 were:

 

The Team Vicar of Little Gaddesden Church - Reverend John Russell, (Chairman)

Mrs Pat Catchpole, acted as Secretary and Treasurer

Mrs Jane Murray

Mrs Louise Archer as representative of the Parish Council

Mr Michael Thompson nominated by Ashridge College as their representative.

 

The Accounts were examined by Hillier Hopkins, Chartered Accountants of Watford. The expenditure for the year was £980

 

The strictest confidentiality is observed in the handling of requests for assistance and details about cases are never made public in any form.  Any of the Trustees, however will be glad to answer questions of a general nature on how the charity operates.

Pat Catchpole

 

5. UPDATE ON THE CHURCH VESTRY PROJECT
 

Barbara Sheard spoke on behalf of St Peter and St Paul Church about the status of the Church Vestry Project. The Vicar and Churchwardens and Parochial Church Council have a vision to upgrade, modernise and enlarge the original extension to the Church built 50 years ago. The proposal is to convert the priest’s vestry into a kitchen, increase the size of the choir vestry to make a small hall with a vaulted ceiling, re-order the toilet and sacristy kitchen to provide a disabled access toilet and to extend and re-roof the ambulatory to form a lobby to the hall.

 

The facilities will be great asset to the village and the hall will be available as a community building to hire. At times when other halls are in use this will be a particularly useful addition to premises available for use by the community.

 

Already the PCC have achieved Planning Approval and DAC approval from the Diocese. They have also short listed an Architect and Structural Engineer.

 

The overall project cost is £400,000 including vat, of which £150,000 has already been funded. The Church is now launching an appeal to the village residents and will be making applications for community grants etc. Every resident will be sent a formal invitation to come along to the Church on June 13th to see the plans for the vestry and obtain details of the ‘Vestry@50 appeal’.

 

 

6. CONSIDERATION OF WRITTEN RESOLUTIONS OF WHICH NOTICE HAS BEEN GIVEN
 

No notice of any written resolutions had been given.

 

7. QUESTIONS/AOB/ELECTORS

 

Councillor Hyde advised on behalf of the Royal British Legion that there would be a commemoration of the end of WW1 at the Village hall on Sunday 14th October. Councillor Heaphy advised on behalf of the National Trust that there would be a beacon lit on November 10th, more details would be provided on both events later in the year.

 

There were no other comments or questions and so the business of the Annual Meeting of the Electorate

concluded at 8.20 pm.

 
 

How to get in touch…

Gaddesden Society President
Trevor Fernandes 01442 843498

Gaddesden Society Honorary Secretary
Mandy Haynes 01442 842496
mandy.haynesco.fsnet.co.uk

Gaddesden Society Treasurer
Phil Heaphy 01442 842283
philiph@audiolink.co.uk

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Editors
Phil and Rachael Heaphy 01442 842 283 philiph@audiolink.co.uk

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Emma Thon
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Distribution
Genny Snowdon 01442 843834

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