Parish Council Affairs
An Invitation to the Annual Parish Meeting: Monday 14th April
The Annual Parish Meeting will be held at St Pauls School on Monday 14th April at 8pm. We shall have two short introductory talks this year before the formal business meeting, both with an emphasis on the young people in the village. Bob Wiggins, Chairman of the Youth Clubs Management Committee will outline to us the concept of involving young people in village affairs through the possible formation of a Youth Parish Council. Then WPC Michelle Buttleman, responsible for our day to day community policing, will tell us about her job, with particular emphasis on her role of working with young people.
These two short presentations will be followed by the business meeting. The reporting part of this should be very brief, but there will be ample opportunity for questions, both on the Parish Councils plans for the forthcoming year or on any other matters. After the business comes the chance to relax and to meet your councillors informally over wine and cheese. The Parish Councils Annual Report
In recent years, the Parish Councils Annual Report on its activities has been circulated at the meeting itself. This year, it was felt it would be helpful if the report could be circulated more widely in advance of the meeting. With the co-operation of Chipperfield News, to which the Parish Council is most grateful, this has proved to be possible. So below you will find summaries by the Chairs of the Councils five committees of their main activities over the past year. If you have any questions about these reports or have any other issues you wish to raise, do come to the Annual Meeting. We shall be very pleased to see you.
The Parish is fortunate in having the facility of an allotment field, which is divided into fifty plots for the use of the local population. Most tenants live in Chipperfield, but a number come from Bovingdon.
The allotments are overseen by a committee of the Parish Council, which consists of three councillors and three tenants, elected at the AGM of the allotment holders. The full committee meets when major decisions have to be made. For instance, when it was proposed that allotment land should be used for the construction of a tennis court, many meetings and much discussion took place before agreement was reached and the construction went ahead. Now the court is in use and has been accepted amicably by the tenants.
At present, planning permission is being sought for the construction of a driveway to link the road to the main allotment entrance. Over the years, more and more of the tenants come to the allotments by car, which has caused considerable damage to the common land, looks unsightly and has to be remedied. Hopefully, the new track will soon be in use.
On the whole, the allotments are well used, but there are still plots to let, which the Parish Council would like to see brought back to cultivation and new tenants would be most welcome. At present, the rent is but £6 a plot. For such little expenditure one can enjoy healthy exercise and produce good quality, organically grown vegetables and soft fruit. Why not come and join us? ClIr. Ian Murphy
Finance and General Purposes
This committee is responsible for proposing the Parish Councils budget for the year, for ensuring that subsequent expenditure is properly controlled and for making
recommendations on policy and other issues that do not fall within the scope of the other committees.
Financial matters have been well to the fore this year as the Governments new Accounting and Auditing regulations have made substantial changes to local government financial accounts. This has involved the Parish Clerk in much extra work.
The total Parish Council Tax (precept) for 1996-7 was set for just over £10,000 and although the financial year has still three weeks to run at the time of writing, the indications are that we shall end the year well within this budget. For 1997-8 a total precept expenditure of £10,511 was put forward to Dacorum Borough Council, representing an increase over that for last year of 4%. In addition, we have asked the borough for a further £8,013 (known as concurrent expenditure) from their fund for rural areas to spend on behalf of the village. Fuller details of the financial position will, of course, be available at the Annual Parish Meeting.
A number of projects for the village have been progressed during the year. Among them have been plans to appoint a village warden to tackle the litter problem, which the Village Appraisal identified as one which concerned many residents. It is hoped to make an appointment in the near future. The Affordable Housing Project has made good progress and we are now awaiting preliminary proposals for a specific scheme to share with the village. A preliminary work plan has been prepared for the production of a history of the village in living memory to be published as part of the millennium celebrations. The committee also registered official objections to the Hertfordshire County Councils Waste Plan with a view to making it include prohibitions against heavy vehicles on their way to and from a proposed waste site at Bovingdon passing through our village.
The low police presence in Chipperfield has been a worrying feature of the year with the permanent loss of our village police constable and the temporary withdrawal of the mobile unit for Chipperfield, Bovingdon and Kings Langley. We have good relations with the Dacorum Division of the Hertfordshire Constabulary. However, protests from the village, some of which have gone right up the line, have not resulted in a change of policy. We shall continue to do our best to restore the villages policing to a better level.
Finally, the committee put forward draft objections, approved by the Council, to the recent proposals by the Borough to recommend to the Local Government Commission that the electoral ward of Chipperfield be merged with that of Bovingdon and Flaunden. In our submission to both Dacorum Borough Council and to the Commission, we expressed our strong belief that we should retain the single member Chipperfield Ward with our own Borough Councillor.
Highways, Road Safety and Public Transport
The main activity of the committee has been to follow up the results of the public consultation on traffic calming measures for the village. Here, we have seen some progress, but also a number of frustrations.
On the plus side, we now have speed restrictions on all the main roads in the parish and the road from Bovingdon to the Two Brewers has been re-surfaced to a good standard. We now have a pavement in front of the Two Brewers, making the approach from this direction to the school safer, and another around the corner opposite Tower Hill Garage. New drainage and surfacing work has at long last been carried out between the ‘Windmill and Queen Street and at the soak- away near the Manor House. Safety at the Tower Hill crossroads has been enhanced by the erection of new high intensity signs – a chequerboard one in the hedge and new warnings on the approaches.
On the other hand, we have seen lengthy delays from the County Couhcils Transportation Department on providing plans for a possible mini-roundabout at the Royal Oak crossroads and on surfacing the permissive footpath at Whippendell Hill.
Parish Council Affairs
In the case of the footpath we had actually been assured by the County Council that the money for the work had been ‘ring-fenced, but that did not prevent it from evaporating when the time came to do the work. We have also been told that there will be no money available for traffic calming measures at Tower Hill in the year ahead.Nevertheless, the committee has prepared priorities for road safety work when funds are available:
1. Footpath at Whippendell Hill.
2. Footpaths on bend in Dunny Lane.
3. Footpath from Tower Hill to Chipperfield Garden Centre.
In the area of public transport, the Parish Council circulated in Septembe
r, with the help of Chipperfield News, a handy leaflet detailing the timetables for all three of our bus routes.
Again, there was frustration in having to use council funds to repair damage caused by vandalism to the two bus shelters owned by the Council. In one case, further damage was caused through paint daubing within two weeks of the shelter being refurbished.
The council also submitted its views on behalf of the village on the minimum level of service to be set for the franchises running North London Railways and the West Coast Main Line. ClIr Polly Garratt
Open Spaces and Footpaths
The committee is responsible for the open spaces and footpaths within the parish.
During the last year the Common has been the subject of both good and bad developments. On the good side Apostles Pond has been thoroughly cleaned up, something much requested by local residents. The pond was drained and many wildlife subjects removed for the duration of the works. As the pond supports many carp, goldfish, crested newts (which are an endangered species), frogs and toads, it was important to ensure that they were all safe. Once all the debris was removed, the pond was allowed to refill naturally, as no other water supply could be found. Lime and manure were added to provide the right nutrients for wildlife and the fish are to be returned to the pond in the spring.
On the down side there has been a lot of vandalism on the Common. The Heritage Trust notices have been vandalised on a number of occasions, and only recently, a young lime tree has been attacked with an axe. It is very sad to think that there are people in the locality with so little regard for the natural beauty we are so fortunate to have around us!
This year we have joined the Parish Paths Partnership. This is a scheme launched in 1992 by the Countryside Commission. It provides advice, grant aid and practical help to local Councils and voluntary groups to enable them to improve the condition of the Public Rights of Way network, and, once improved, to keep the paths open and in use. A survey was conducted of all our public footpaths to ascertain what needed to be done. Fortunately, all our 14 footpaths were in reasonable condition, with the odd exception, such as the one that runs along the back of Queen Street. It was decided that for the 1996-7 year we would apply for a grant of
£1,000 to enable us to replace all the worn out metal signposts and signs. This was approved and the work was due to start in March. Many of the signposts will be having their Public Footpath signs replaced with ones bearing their destination. This will hopefully be of use to locals and visitors alike. ClIr Kim Mitchell
The main activity of the committee has been as usual to consider all the planning applications affecting the village that have been submitted to Dacorum Borough Council. Over the past year there have been well over 40 such applications and for each of these committee members have visited the site and tried to picture the appropriateness of the design, the impact on neighbours and on the environment and whether the proposal is in conformity with the District Plan.
Probably, the most significant applications for development in the period were those affecting the transfer of the Post Office to Chapel Croft and for the further extension of Chipperfield Garage. In the case of the former, the committee played an important part in facilitating the Post Offices move and doing all it could to ensure there was only a short time when we were without one. In the latter case the Borough Development Control Committee approved the plans, subject to detailed provision for working hours and sound levels, although the Parish Council had expressed their unhappiness with the new site layout.
The other main activities for the committee have centred on two Hertfordshire County Council Plans. The Minerals Plan covers policies for the extraction and processing of minerals, mainly gravel. Here the committee prepared an objection aimed at preventing the possibility of heavy gravel lorries going through Conservation Areas, such as the one covering the core of the village. The main concerns about the Countys Structure Plan relates to the provision of new homes over the next 15 years. The Parish Council accepted that the figure of 20 new dwellings in Chipperfield over this period was reasonable. Like many other local Parish and Town Councils we are very concerned however about the Countys view, supported by our own Borough Council, that the target number of dwellings they have been required to provide would necessitate building in the Green Belt. We therefore agreed to participate in an initiative of Potten End and Nettleden Parish Council to contribute to the cost of having a planning expert represent the rural parishes of Dacorum in countering this proposal at the Planning Inspectors examination in public. This is currently taking place.
ClIr David Nobbs