Chairman’s Report 2022
Having completed my first year as Chair of the Parish Council, I’m wondering what happened to the quiet year I was promised.
The year began with the AGM in May, which was the last meeting to be held by Zoom.
Thankfully, Ian was kind enough to stay in the Chair for this, so that I didn’t have to contend with Zoom for my first meeting.
With the switch from delegated powers in June, we were unable to hold a meeting until face-to-face meetings could begin again in July – albeit with social distancing.
Events began in earnest in July. We welcomed Glo Curtis on to the Parish Council.
We were informed that Dorset Wildlife Trust were considering the purchase of Court Farm and 170 hectares of surrounding land, and the Parish Council were asked to consider the management of the allotments should that purchase go ahead.
They also raised the possibility of an alternative site for the new community hall.
Discussions began regarding the organisation of events for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022, and proposals relating to the Cemetery Garden continued, with a very much appreciated grant of £2,200 from the Nisa shop helping to move things along.
Having been unable to hold a meeting in June, it was agreed a meeting would be held in August rather than have the usual summer break.
Much of the time was taken up with discussion on the Tower Hill proposal, but work on the Elder Road footpath upgrade was also confirmed.
In September, a review of the Neighbourhood Plan began.
The Plan has been in place since June 2019 and following issues raised during subsequent planning applications it was felt that the detail within the Plan needed to be expanded upon to strengthen the wording of the planning policies in order to remove any ambiguity and to fully guide developers and decision-makers.
Regular review of the plan also ensures that it is deemed current under the National Planning Policy Framework and must therefore be taken into consideration.
In order to try and aid better communication with parishioners, an opt-in email was set up; the idea being for people to submit a request to receive communications from the Parish Council regarding events or issues that may be of relevance to the parish.
To date only four people have signed up to receive this.
At the Parish Forum in September, Dorset Council gave a presentation of their proposal for the old school site;
DWT gave a summary of their rationale for their purchase of Court Farm and surrounding land from the Drax Estate, and their vision for the site; Cllr Ventham presented Certificates of Appreciation to individuals nominated by people in the parish for their support during the lockdown periods and during the COVID restrictions.
The open discussion at the end of the Forum focused on maintenance of the verges, parking issues within the village and liaison with Aster.
In October, Phil Morgan stepped down from the Council but very kindly agreed to continue to help with the Lunch Club and Communibu – we’re very grateful to him for this and for all his work as a Councillor; the purchase of Court Farm and surrounding land by DWT was finalised; and a Community Liaison Officer was appointed.
The first Lunch Club and Communibus trip for over 18 months were held and both were very well received.
In November, the Remembrance Parade was held with Sally Cadec, DLL joining us to lay a wreath at the memorial.
Thankfully the weather was kind and we were able to hold the service outside.
Also in the month, Jon Park joined the Parish Council and Lana Lammiman came on board to act as liaison with the School.
A Community Governance Review application was submitted for two additional councillors to join the Parish Council to take our numbers from 11 to 13.
Were this to be agreed, it would take effect from May 2024.
After a consultation exercise, DWT announced that the new reserve would be named Wild Woodbury, and conversations continued regarding a possible site for the Community Hall and management of the allotments.
The play park boundary fence had suffered badly from recent storms and was now in need of replacement.
Discussions began with the neighbours to see how we could move this forward.
Work on the Elder Road footpath refurbishment had begun and was now well underway.
Judy Newton very kindly offered to act as co-ordinator for the Parish Platinum Jubilee Celebrations.
In December, the Precept for the coming year was agreed at £73,730 – an increase of just over 5% and the lowest increase since 2016 in recognition of the continuing economic struggles.
A tree survey was undertaken of the trees along the Elder Road footpath and a report produced setting out the work that needed to be carried out. Once again, the Lunch Club had to be cancelled due to Covid.
By January 2022, the Elder Road footpath refurbishment had been completed.
At a cost of £28,900, it was the most the Parish Council had spent on a single project for many years.
Following a Zoom meeting with the land agents for the Drax Estate, we were informed that they intend to sell the land at North Street and Back Lane to a developer in order to progress development of planning applications.
The organisation of the Jubilee events moved on at pace and an outline for the four days was beginning to appear.
In February 2022, it was confirmed that the Post Office would be reopened in the village shop.
Sadly, the co-ordinators of the Community Speed Watch Team informed the meeting that they would be leaving the village.
Grateful thanks are extended to Angie and Ian Wright for their work in setting up this initiative.
During the period of its operation, a noticeable difference has been made and it will be a sad loss to the village.
As things currently stand, no-one has come forward to take their place.
The first draft of the Neighbourhood Plan review was completed in March and agreed by members.
Organisation of Parish Platinum Jubilee events was well underway and it was agreed the Parish Council would purchase commemorative mugs to be given to all the children of the parish, under the age of 16.
The date of the 16 July 2022 was set for the next Parish Forum and the Parish Council confirmed the acceptance of the Allotments Licence from DWT, with our management of the allotments to commence from the 1 April 2022.
So, moving on from that not as quiet as promised year, there is still a great deal going on in the Parish.
Covid still overshadows everything but less and less as time goes by.
The Parish Council continues to be very active, and all members have their own area to oversee.
Amongst his many other duties, the Lengthsman is making good in roads into repairing the Play Park fence.
So far, the main event in the coming year looks to be the Parish Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in early June.
Things are beginning to move on the employment site at North Street and planning applications are expected for the Back Lane and North Street development sites.
The NP Review is due to be submitted to an external examiner for review prior to going out to consultation, and we continue to look at options for a common land swap so we can move on with the Community Hall.
There is a considerable amount of work to be done around the allotments, and tree surveys will be undertaken here and at the cemetery.
My thanks are extended to all my fellow councillors for their help and support through my first year in office.
Bere Regis Parish Council