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Chipperfield Parish Councils Annual Report

2nd of April 2001

The past year has been an eventful one. In a period in which we celebrated the millennium, the Parish Council has also been involved in a large number of other local and regional initiatives and has also seen changes in its membership of eight councillors. Following Diane Butlers resignation earlier in the year, John Carter was co-opted as a councillor in May and Brenda Berners-Price was similarly coopted in September, following Neville Thomas resignation, when he left the district for a period. We are currently waiting to see whether a by-election will be needed to replace Roelof Stammeijer, who resigned in February due to pressure of work. Fortunately there were no changes in our team of part-time employees – Parish Clerk John Pringle, Village Warden Michael Horne and Common Ranger Chris Deacon.

Finance and General Purposes. The Parish Councils budget for 2000-2001 had been set at £14,842 equivalent of £17.75 per annum for a band D household. At present, it looks as if we will have to dip into our reserves to supplement this figure, due mainly to an agreed increase in hours of working for the Parish Clerk. The budget for the new financial year from the beginning of April has been increased to take into account the increasingly heavy burden falling on the Clerk and also into the running costs of a small pick-up truck we are providing to help the Village Warden in his work. The total precept is £17,037, the equivalent of £20.11 per band D household. In addition, we have requested a sum of £11,501 from the Borough Councils funds for rural areas, which we will spend on grant support for amenities such as the Village Hall and for the Village Wardens and Common Rangers salaries.

A great deal of hard work came to fruition when 2 major events were held to celebrate the millennium. Our Village Day on June 11 was regarded by all as a great success, when the work of a sub-committee chaired by Richard Edwards, which had met no fewer than 12 times, was blessed by one of the summers few brilliantly sunny days. In December, the no less acclaimed Village Millennium book, ‘Chipperfield Within Living Memory, was launched and sales have already exceeded expectations. It is planned that the Annual Parish Meeting will provide an opportunity to see the work on the two other millennium projects sponsored by the Council – St Pauls Schools Millennium Diary and the Parish Map being prepared by Mike Tagg and Joy Weyman-Jones. The committee has also considered the best way for the Village Chest to be administered following the resignation of the trustees and it is planned to share proposals for its future at the Annual Parish Meeting. During the course of the year, grants have been made from the Parish Councils own ‘grants and projects budget to help with the internal decoration of the Village Hall, the external decoration of the Baptist Church and the maintenance of the churchyard. A small (and inexpensive) second-hand pickup van has been acquired for the Village Warden. The Parish Councils views have also been submitted on a wide range of consultations, ranging from the re-organisation of Health services in the county to the new structure of local government and proposed new financial procedures.
Cllr. David Nobbs

Allotments. Of the 46 plots available for rent, only one is currently without a tenant. An enquiry to rent the vacant plot was received from a new resident in the village but due to the recent vandalism, they decided not to rent it. Vandalism continues to be a problem and includes damage to and theft of crops, damage to equipment, breaking into sheds and the theft of a new shed in February 2001. The police have been informed of all incidents. Following the theft of a shed, the Parish Council have arranged for a locked barrier to be installed across the main entrance path to prevent unauthorised vehicles entering the allotment gardens. Tenants will have access for their own vehicles and for deliveries of manure etc. It is proposed to repair and re-instate all boundary hedges as soon as possible to provide an additional deterrent. Three plots need to be strimmed and rotovated before cultivation can take place and this work was arranged to be done in the autumn. Unfortunately, the continual bad weather from September has made it impossible to get the machines on to the ground. This work will be undertaken as soon as possible.
The Annual Meeting of tenants will be held in the Youth Club at 8.00pm on Thursday 5 April. Rents for 2001/2002 will be collected (the fee remains unaltered at £6 per plot per annum) and committee members elected. The business meeting will be followed by refreshments. Cllr. Liz Holliday

Open Spaces and Footpaths
Open Spaces. Following the completion of the first 5-year Woodland Development Plan initiated by Dacorum’s Woodland Service Unit, the Woodland Officer, Cameron Lewis, conducted a walk to show residents what had been done. The 98% success rate of the newly planted broadleaf saplings along Windmill Hill was particularly satisfying. Damage to the banks of the Apostles Pond by horses and dogs was noted and will be repaired. Cameron Lewis left Dacorum Borough Council in November for a post in south Wales and Phillip Russell has been appointed to replace him. The second 5-year Development Plan has started with selective tree felling and thinning in Compartment 4. The extent of the work and obliteration of a number of small tracks through the woods has concerned many residents, but the Parish Council has been assured that the contractors’ work is being monitored and does not exceed their brief. During the summer a number of fires were lit in the woods but fortunately were spotted and little damage was done. A stolen car was driven into the woods and set alight but this damage was also contained. A number of portable and disposable barbecues were brought on to The Common by visitors during the summer, creating potential fire risks. Fires are not permitted on The Common and Dacorum Borough Council has been informed as they may have to amend the Bylaws to include barbecues. Following a site meeting with officers from Dacorum, the Borough Council agreed to pay for the installation of birdmouth fencing to delineate the boundaries of the permissive car park opposite Queen Street to prevent further encroachment into the woods. The Parish Council has arranged for the surface of the car park to be improved with roadstone. During the winter, vandals seriously damaged a number of vehicles in the car parks, including setting fire to two cars in February. The Parish Council has consulted the police and are investigating the practicality of installing some form of lighting. The area of The Common adjacent to the church used by the builders of the Parish Room has not yet been re-instated, but will be re-seeded as soon as the weather improves. The temporary barrier protecting the grass verge along the church wall preventing vehicles parking on the grass during the winter has worked and will be removed as soon as the ground dries.
During the year our Common Ranger has again cleared and removed a vast quantity of litter and fly-tipped rubbish from The Common. Dacorum Borough Council will be repairing the War Memorial which was damaged by high winds in November. Footpaths. Last year a grant from Hertfordshire County Council (Countryside Management Service) under the Parish Paths Partnership scheme enabled the surface of Footpath 10 (at the rear of Queen Street) to be improved and a further grant will be used this year to pay for improvements and additional maintenance along the full length of the Public Right of Way from Langley Road to Bulstrode Lane (Footpath 14). This path is one of the most heavily used in the village and an improved surface and more regular trimming of hedges and overhanging branches will make it easier and safer to use. Work was initially delayed by bad weather and is currently suspended as all paths in the county have been closed due to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease.
Cllr. Liz Holliday

Safety and Public Transport. Shortage of funds for road improvement and maintenance has meant that there has been relatively little activity in this area. The Committee has pursued two main areas of concern, first the danger to both traffic and pedestrians alike posed by the parking of vehicles on the pavement outside the Two Brewers and second the problems caused by thoughtless, and at times reckless, drivers in the area of the school crossing patrol at the junction of Kings Lane and Chapel Croft. We have been pursuing these problems with the County Highway authorities, looking at the possibilities of installing bollards outside the Two Brewers and installing a pedestrian crossing nears the shops. We have also explored the possibilities of imposing vehicle width restrictions in Scatterdells Lane, but have been advised that this would not be possible.

The experimental once a week evening bus service to the Woodside Leisure Centre in Watford was terminated in November on grounds of lack of use. The Parish Council felt that the County Council would have met peoples need better had they consulted local people before setting up the service and then publicising it more widely.
Cllr. David Nobbs

Planning The routine work of the committee continues to be the consideration of each one of the 50 to 60 planning applications that are referred to us by Dacorum Borough Council each year to give us the opportunity to submit our views. The majority of the proposals for development we see are for extensions to dwellings and it is usually only when these represent what is regarded as an over-development of the site, that we express concern. Among the more significant applications to be considered

the rear of The Boot in Tower Hill, where we recommended approval, the development of the Ackwell Simmonds site for luxury dwellings, which despite our disapproval and that of the Borough Council, was agreed to on appeal, and the application of One-2-One for a communications mast at the south of Scatterdells Wood, which we have also recommended for refusal.

We made two objections in person to the inspectors conducting the Inquiry into the new draft Dacorum Local Plan, one concerning the maximum size of extensions and one to try and get the Borough to take on greater responsibility for planning rural parking.

Our other major planning task has been performed by a sub-committee of council members and others interested in the maintenance of the villages heritage. The aim has been to produce a Village Design Statement, which can be used to guide future development along lines sympathetic to the best features that we have inherited from the past. After a successful workshop in April last year, work has progressed steadily to the stage where we were able to present a draft document to all the village and then seek views at a consultation day on February 17.
Cllr. David Nobbs

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