Parish Council Annual Report
I am pleased to report a successful year with a number of significant achievements, reported below. Proper procedures and transparency are important to good governance. This year we have added a complaints procedure which includes an automatic entry to the Council meeting agenda. You will also see increasing use of the Village web site to make information readily accessible.
Feedback from the community via the questionnaire issued at the last APM has been valuable in directing progress in maintaining the Common in accordance with community wishes and in establishing an effective Friends of Chipperfield Common Group.
The Council is pleased to report that the Parish Council’s finances are under control and in a healthy state. The current financial climate in local government is still uncertain and budgets are expected to be adversely affected. Be assured your Council is keeping a close watch on events.
Cllr. Mike Bradshaw, Chairman
2 Council Members and their Prime Responsibilities
Council members are: Mike Bradshaw, Chairman, Allotments and Open Spaces and Executive member of the Herts. Association of Parish and Town Councils; Sharon Sims, Deputy Chair, Highways Road Safety&Transport; David Nobbs, Planning; Pauline Southworth, Youth, Education & Health; Simon Gruselle, Finance & General Purposes; Martha Anson, Legal & Police; Susan Fowler & Mike Joseph, General Support. Mark Jarrad, Consultant.
The Council is ably supported by Jo Deacon, Clerk, Malcolm Durrant, Village Warden and Andrew Orchard, The Common Ranger. The Warden and Ranger help to maintain the tidiness and safety of The Common. Their performance continues to be a significant factor in our success in winning the Green Flag Award for The Common. Jo Deacon is the focal point for all the Council’s activities. Her dedication to the task has helped significantly to make this another successful year.
4 Community Support Officer
Our PCSO is Bardhyl Agallili (Bardi). In addition we have been supported by PC Julie Hennesy and more recently by PC Amanda Lees. PC Nick Pringle is the Neighbourhood Officer for the Ward. The Council would like to welcome Amanda and thank them all, on behalf of Chipperfield, for their vigilance and support.
The Parish Budget for 2010-11
The overall budget is £44,933. This is in two parts, the Precept and the Concurrent. The Precept raised from residents Council Tax will be £25,450, which is the same figure as for the year just gone. The Council felt it important to avoid any increase to the precept in what remain difficult economic times. The effect on a Band D property remains the same at £29.76 per annum. For the Concurrent budget we have requested £19,483 from DBC, up by a very modest 0.4% on the previous year. This is primarily to pay for the salary and expenditure for our Village Warden and Common Ranger and to provide grant aid to various Village organisations.
Accounts: The Accounts for last year were submitted ahead of schedule for external audit. I am pleased to report that the auditors approved the accounts promptly with no qualifications.
Reserves: As a result of prudent financial management, your Council has established appropriate financial reserves. The reserves are intended to ensure we can meet future commitments and are able to invest in some longer term projects. During 2009/10 the main investment has been on further work to the Allotment boundary hedge restoration. In addition, we have committed a further £1,400 towards the restoration of the War Memorial.
As usual we have been able to provide grant aid to Junior and Senior Football clubs, the Cricket Club, the Village Hall and a contribution towards the maintenance of the graveyard. This year, however, we have also successfully widened the net of applicants for grants from the Parish Council. As a result, we have also been able to provide grants for the Karate Club, the Choral Society, Chipperfield Care, St Paul’s School and the Baptist Church. The overall grant allocation remains in line with previous years.
Cllr. Simon Gruselle
The Parish Council submits to Dacorum Borough Council Planning Department its views on all the planning applications for development within Chipperfield. At the time of writing 44 applications had been dealt with in the past year, a considerable reduction on the number in the previous few years, due in part no doubt to the credit crunch. If our views differ from those of the Borough planning officers, the application is referred to the Borough’s Development Control Committee.
For a second year, the most significant site for development in the village was the land at the end of Nunfield. Hightown-Praetorian and Churches Housing Association submitted three alternative plans for social housing on this plot. After opposition from the Parish and Borough Councils, all three cases were won on appeal and the Housing Association have indicated they wish to proceed on a development of 6 dwellings with access by way of Kings Close.
Chipperfield Parish Council is continuing to defend its important planning role on behalf of the community against various moves to diminish it. This has happened through the Borough Council’s attempts to block the right of referral to the Development Control Committee, and the Government down-playing the role of Parish Councils in its plans to speed up the planning approval process.
The Council has submitted its views in response to planning consultation documents from the Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council, the Environment Agency and the East of England Regional Authority. The last-named was particularly important as it related to proposals for the quantity of new dwellings to be built in Dacorum over the next 20 years which unfortunately require the use of land in the Green Belt. Your Council policy is to protect the Green Belt wherever possible. We will maintain a close watch on any proposed developments.
The Parish Council has collaborated with Dr James Moir on the review of the Chipperfield Conservation Area. He has produced an excellent draft assessment of the village character, which was put on the Dacorum website for consultation in February.
Cllr. David Nobbs
7 Highways Road Safety & Transport
Your Council has increased its efforts to bring issues of road and gully maintenance to the attention of HCC Highways. We have established regular meetings with Highways and are able to focus on problems and influence priority work.
A number of issues were completed throughout 2009/10 including: Extensive patching and resurfacing of The Common outside the Windmill pub; Sunken Utility works outside Ricketts butchers repaired; Storm drain repaired on Tower Hill; Flooding outside Blackwell’s addressed; Gulley emptying Langley Road, Chapel Croft, The Common and Dunny Lane.
In August 2009 Parish Councillors again surveyed the Parish for our third Road Review, with much photographic evidence. This review has been submitted to Hertfordshire Highways for comment and action.
A further supplementary report is planned to take into account the devastating effect this winter has had on the roads and the damage it has caused. Whilst we continue to press Herts. Highways to repair the roads, we strongly recommend that dangerous potholes are reported promptly and directly to Herts. Highways on 0300 123 4047 or at http://www.hertsdirect.org/atozofservices/ choose H for Highways fault reporting.
Speeding and road safety within the Parish remains a priority. A VAS was installed in Dunny Lane in March but it has suffered a few teething problems. As a result, with road safety in mind and after public consultation, it was decided by Council and Highways that the sign might be better placed nearer the crossroads. At the time of writing the relocation of the VAS is “imminent”.
Cllr. Sharon Sims
8 Youth Education and Health
The council continues its policy of trying to further the interests of youth. As a result of widening the Grant net CPC had provided grant monies of £200 toward the purchase of new mats for the karate club members.
In memory of Liz Holliday, it was agreed to present annually a cup, purchased by CPC named “The Liz Holliday award for writing” and offer a prize of approx £25, to be presented annually, to a pupil of St Paul’s school. The Cup has been obtained and presented to school ready for the competition in June. The School has also agreed to contribute to the Friends of Chipperfield Common activities.
The Council has contributed to several consultation documents including The Proposed merger of NHS Primary Care Trusts, The Future of Hemel Birth Unit and Related Maternity Services and The 2010 world class commissioning assurance stakeholder survey on the way in which PCTs engage with their partners, stakeholders and public.
Cllr. Pauline Southworth
9 Allotments & Open Spaces
Allotments. The Allotment restoration continues. This year, we have completed boundary hedge 2 (School side), and have also made a start on hedge 3 (Football Club side). Access to the Allotments from the tennis court end is now gated and being fenced. It is hoped that this work will not only increase the amenity value of the Allotments but will also improve security.
A full review of the financial management and administration of the Allotments has been undertaken. A revision of the tenancy terms and conditions together with a significant rent review has been undertaken to ensure that the Allotments are better maintained and are revenue neutral. The above work and review has been undertaken with the cooperation of the tenants.
Chipperfield Common. In 2008, Council cooperated with DBC in producing the five year plan for the Common under the aegis of the Government’s Green Flag Scheme. The submission was successful. I am pleased to announce that the submission of the updated plan in 2009 was also successful. We now await the outcome of our 2010 submission. The regular updates of the plan and the annual assessment of The Common by the Green Flag judges is a valuable tool in maintaining and improving standards of maintenance for our greatest asset, The Common.
The policy being followed by the Parish and Borough Councils in maintaining the Common, is to ensure that the delicate balance between preservation and visitor convenience is maintained. The conclusions of the survey drawn from the results of the questionnaire launched at last year’s APM, serve to underline this policy and the general satisfaction with the maintenance of The Common. The negative conclusion arising from the survey, with respect to dog fouling, is receiving attention.
I am very pleased to report that the request for interest in forming a Friends of Chipperfield Common Group, which was part of the APM questionnaire, produced a significant level of interest. The activities of the Group, lead by Colin Chambers the DBC Woodlands Officer, have already created a significant improvement in the Manor Pond and the Pill Pond.
A new footpath has been established, by the side of Dunny Lane, at the end of The Common.
Cllr. Mike Bradshaw