Nettleham Parish Council | Chairman’s Annual Report | 01 April 2016 – 31 March 2017

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CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT 01/04/16 – 31/03/17

I took on the role of Chairman at the May 2016 Annual Parish Council meeting following Cllr Terry Williams 10 years as Chairman.  I would like to pay tribute to the tremendous efforts of Cllr Terry Williams, and Cllr Janice Clayton (Vice-Chairman for the same period).  I would like to thank them for their excellent contribution to the running of all the Parish Council meetings during the last 10 years.

Please see below my first Chairman’s Annual Report for the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017.  My first year has been a very busy one for the Parish Council and I detail below a summary of the Council’s main areas of activity during that period.

1.    Beal Homes development of 200 dwellings on Land off Larch Avenue

In September 2016 the Planning Inspectorate held a Hearing in the Old School to hear the Planning Appeal on the Beal Homes for a development of 200 dwellings on Land off Larch Avenue.  The Parish Council was represented at this meeting by myself and Counsel, Mr Andrew Parkinson.  WLDC was presented by Planning Officer, George Backovic and District Councillor Giles McNeill.  The Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) of 12 December 2016 concerning neighbourhood planning represents a significant national policy change and is a material consideration in decision making. In light of this, the Inspector has decided that it is necessary to re-open the hearing on 19 July 2017 in order to test evidence relating to the implications of the WMS, specifically whether West Lindsey District Council can demonstrate a 3 year housing land supply.  The Parish Council will be represented by Cllr Terry Williams (Hon. Legal Advisor) and myself at the Hearing.

2.    Grass Cutting, Fieldpath Strimming and Weed Treatments on Road Verges

We were advised by Lincolnshire County Council that, as a result of further budget cuts, funding ceased from 1 April 2016 for maintenance of our fieldpaths and from 1 April 2017 they will cease to pay for amenity grass cutting of verges and weed treatment around the village.  This has, unfortunately, had an impact on the 2017/18 precept.  The Parish Council agreed at its Budget Meeting in October 2016 to take over the management and financial costs of grass cutting, weed treatment and fieldpaths strimming from 1 April 2017.

3.    The Ray Sellars Community Award

At the Annual Parish Meeting in April 2017, the Parish Council was delighted to announce Joyce and Colin Lewis as the worthy winners of the Ray Sellars Community Award.  This was in recognition for their organisation and contribution to the Nettleham Cares annual event since 1988.  They have worked closely with charitable care organisations in our local area for much of this time; they have won the support and respect of many local people for the work they have carried out over nearly 28 years. They are also leading lights in collecting shoeboxes for families and elderly people in Eastern Europe (372 sent in 2016) and also with the Sightsavers charity.

4.    Play Equipment Review

A Parish Council working group has been set up to assess the current and future needs of play equipment in the village.  Consultation was undertaken with residents and the results of this feedback has been analysed and the Working Group are currently speaking with play equipment providers and investigating available funding streams.

5.    Planning

At the time of the preparation of this Report, 56 planning applications had been received during the year (April 2016 – March 2017) relating to all aspects of development in the village but primarily extensions and improvements. However, there have been a number of planning applications for major developments which are detailed below or under a separate heading.  During that period there were 5 refusals of planning permission by WLDC.   Four Appeals were made on refused planning applications and three were refused and one (Beal Homes development on Land off Larch Avenue – see No.1 above) is still to be decided.

The Long Leys Trust has been granted permission to build a new place of Worship on Deepdale Lane.  The Parish Council were very disappointed with this decision as we felt it conflicted with our newly adopted Neighbourhood Plan.  West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) Planning Committee concluded the impact on transport would not be severe and there would be no adverse impact on the highway network, particularly in relation to the junction of Deepdale Lane with the A46, it would not harm the setting to one of the entrances to the village and there would be no impact on surface water drainage or foul drainage.  We sincerely hope this is the case.

Other larger developments which were refused included 10 dwellings to Lodge Lane– 18 dwellings to the Brown Cow Inn site and 38 dwellings to land off Scothern Road which went to Appeal but refused by the Planning Inspectorate.  The Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan played a major role in these decisions and protecting the character of our community.

The Central Lincs Local Plan has been progressing over the past year and I made representations on behalf of the village to the public hearing in December regarding extending the Green wedge to Wragby Road.  It was agreed to retain the green wedge from Burton to Greetwell Lane but not extend it any further because it was felt we have sufficient protection in other policies to prevent coalescence with Lincoln, or villages to the East.  The CLLP has however adopted all the allocated sites and housing numbers identified in the Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan. The CLLP has now been finalised and should be adopted before the summer thus giving us even more ammunition to fight inappropriate new development.

6.    Meetings of the Council

The Council met on 13 occasions during the past year; its Committees, namely the Property Committee met on 8 occasions plus 2 Village Inspections and the Fieldpaths Advisory Committee met on 2 occasions.  In addition, 3 Council Members attended meetings of the Mulsanne Park Users Committee (MPUC), which met 4 times.  The Planning Liaison Committee, which meets as and when required, continues to monitor all planning applications on behalf of the Village. Attached at Appendix A is a schedule showing the attendance of Parish Councillors at all relevant Council and Committee meetings.

7.     The Old School

The demand for hiring of the Old School has increased with several new organisations now using it on a regular basis.  New chairs have been purchased for the Small Hall which are much lighter than the old chairs.

8.    Mulsanne Park

The sports field continues to be extensively used by the football, tennis and cricket clubs and is maintained to a high standard. The Sports Pavilion is used regularly for Art Classes.

In the interests of safety, reducing congestion and car pollution in the village, the Parish Council has made Mulsanne Park car park available for Park & Stride to those people who need to drop off/collect children attending the Junior or Infant Schools and teaching staff.  Parking is a continual and hazardous problem at the start and end of the school day in these areas and we would encourage people to make use of this facility

There have been spates of anti-social behaviour at Mulsanne Park.  The Police have been informed and they have increased their patrols around the park.  The Dusk to Dawn Curfew has been enforced with closing and locking the vehicular gate in the evening.  This system was working until the gate was damaged.  The gate will be repaired and refurbished and new posts will be installed shortly.

9.    Bill Baileys Memorial Playing Field

The playing field also continues to be extensively used and the Council seeks to maintain this facility to a high standard.   The play equipment has been refurbished.

10.    Parish Precept 2017/18

At the November Parish Council Budget Meeting, it was agreed to set the annual precept for the 2017/18 financial year at £133,074, which is an increase of £6,386. The major reasons for this increase results from the Parish Council taking on the maintenance costs for verge grass cutting, fieldpaths strimming and weed spraying which Lincs County Council had previously paid for/undertaken and which have now been withdrawn.   This increase equates to £3.76 per household per year.

11.    Donations

The Council agreed to set up a Grant Application Scheme for the award of funding from the Council’s Section 137 monies. Over the past year, grants have been given to various charitable and local organisations. These include Lincoln & Lindsey Blind Society (£100), British Legion (Poppy Wreath) and Queen’s 90th Birthday Street Party.

12.    West Lindsey Community Awards/Community Lincs John Barker Trophy

WLDC hold an awards ceremony every year to recognise contributions made by groups or individuals to their community.  The Parish Council submitted nominations in various categories and I was very pleased to be presented with Parish Councillor of the Year Award in recognition of my contribution to the Parish Council and Nettleham community in bringing to fruition our Neighbourhood Plan.  Mr Pete Rowlett was also presented with a District Champion Award.  Mr Rowlett has been involved with Nettleham Scouts since the 1980s, being responsible for their fundraising efforts, and was a worthy winner in a strong field of nominations.  The Mabel Briggs Memorial Luncheon Club also received a certificate in recognition of being nominated in the Community Group of the Year category.  Again, there was a long list of contenders so it is no mean achievement to be a runner-up.

Community Lincs recognises local people for their achievements in their community with the John Barker Trophy.  The Parish Council was pleased to nominate Jaime Oliver in the category of Inspirational Leadership for her work with Nettleham Community Hub and was delighted when it was announced that she won.  Congratulations Jaime and thanks to all your team for the work you are doing to make the Hub a success.

13.    Village Facilities

(i)    Best Kept Village Competition – The 2016 Competition
Sadly, Nettleham was unsuccessful in this year’s competition coming third in the Past Winners category.  This is a very difficult category to compete in but we are due to return to our Class III group soon.  We did receive many complimentary remarks from the judges and would like to thank Parish Council staff and residents for their efforts in making our village such an attractive place to live.

(ii)  New Village Sign
I hope you have noticed the new Nettleham sign at the Washdyke Lane entrance to the village.  This has been copied from the sign on the village green and provides a much smarter welcome to the village as well as reflecting our past success in Best Kept Village competitions.

(iii)  Commemorative Benches
Residents may have noticed that the bench near the convenience store on Lodge Lane/Sudbrooke Lane was removed following deterioration and vandalism.  The Long Leys Trust very generously donated a new bench for this location and I would like to express my thanks to them.

(iv)  Sponsorship of Floral Displays
The Parish Council is very grateful for the continued sponsorship of the tubs on the Church Street Bridge by Rudies Roots. We were also very pleased to have received sponsorship for the flower tubs in Vicarage Lane. Thanks very much to the anonymous donors for their generosity.

(v)   Keep Nettleham Tidy
I would like to congratulate Allison Faulkner and her group of litter pickers for taking up the challenge to Clean for the Queen.   It is a pity that such an initiative is necessary in the first place but we do appreciate the considerable efforts this group of volunteers are making to Keep Nettleham Tidy.

(vi)  Tree Maintenance
The Parish Council’s annual tree maintenance programme has included the regular maintenance of all the sites under the Parish Council’s control. The Council also agreed to set aside a small budget for amenity and safety work to be carried out to trees and shrubbery on highway verges.

It is unfortunate that the 3 trees by the side of the Co-op were diseased and had to be felled because they posed a safety hazard. In the near future the old tree stumps will be ground out and the 3 planters will be revamped and placed on top.

(vii)  BT Phone Box – The Green
The Parish Council have agreed to ‘adopt’ the phone box on The Green for £1.00 but will not make a decision on possible future use until we have received confirmation of adoption of the phone box from BT.  We do not intend to adopt the phone box on Sudbrooke Lane/Lodge Lane.

14.    Maintenance of Highways & Traffic Matters

The Parish Council frequently asks Lincolnshire County Council to improve conditions on footpaths, roads and cycle ways. We are pleased to report that surface dressing works to the end of Deepdale Lane, between the Police HQ and the A46, and the junction with Scothern Road have been undertaken.  The rest of Deepdale Lane will receive a surface dressing this summer.

Regrettably Scothern Road itself needs reconstruction work running into several hundred thousand pounds and there is no funding available for this unless it is successful in being included in a county-wide treatment programme.

A section of footpath on Highfields will be treated with slurry seal this year and a section on Sudbrooke Lane has been included on a future programme.  In the meantime, the pothole team will treat any areas notified to them.  Sections of the cycle way along the A46 will be treated with slurry seal this year.

The Council continues to press LCC Highways on these matters and regular reports are made at Parish Council meetings by our County Councillor, Cllr Mrs Jackie Brockway.

We have also expressed our concern about the delays in getting the streetlights fixed as we have had quite a few out of service in the village for many weeks. We regard the lack of illumination combined with the potholes as a night time health and safety hazard but unfortunately it is outside our control.

15.    Fieldpaths Advisory Committee

The Fieldpaths Committee (Chaired by Cllr Richard Porter), is an advisory committee of the Parish Council and meets twice a year in February and September.  The Committee discuss fieldpath and bridleways within the Parish and also organise Village Walks and continues to monitor all aspects of the various fieldpaths/bridleways around the village.  There was a very good turnout of intrepid walkers who came to support the village walk on a sultry day in July.   40 or so people came to support the village walk over the Christmas period.  This was a great turn-out and we were pleased to provide a hot drink and mince pies afterwards.

16.     Parish Council Committee Review

We have had the current Committee Structure for many years and it was felt that the election of a new Chairman to be an appropriate occasion to review the functions and composition of the various Parish Council committees.  A Working Group was established and views were obtained from all Parish Councillors.  As a result a new panel of councillors will be established to consider HR, financial and associated matters. Modifications to the structure of the Property Committee were agreed, and these changes will all be implemented at the beginning of the next Parish Council year in May.

17     Village Hall Refurbishment

A small Working Group comprising Village Hall committee members and Parish Councillors have undertaken a review of the way forward for the Village Hall.  There is clearly a need for money to be spent bringing the building, car park and surroundings up to a better standard.  The Working Group have looked at the potential costs and funding available to undertake the work necessary, and will report back by the end of the Parish Council year.

18.    Parish Council Staff

(i)      The Clerk, Julia Finn, continues to do a first class job as our Clerk; she is very hard working, committed and professional. It has been another busy year for the Office.

(ii)    The Facilities Manager, Fred Stanford, is an asset to the Council with his many years of experience with contract management and his management of the Property Committee.

(iii)    The Council wishes to formally thank the Facilities Assistant Mr Hal Crompton,  Receptionist/Admin Assistant Mrs Leticia Hamilton-Cooper, Mr John Hardcastle (Village Handyman) and Mrs Louise Bromfield (Accounts Clerk) for their continuing work on the Council’s behalf.

19.    Acknowledgements

(i)    I should like to record the Council’s appreciation for the valuable advice that it received during the year from Mr Roger Buttery, our Hon. Finance Advisor. I should also like to record the Council’s appreciation to Ms M Odell for undertaking the role of Flood Warden and Mr Bill Ball and his team of volunteers for all their hard work in maintaining and improving Vicar’s Wood.

(ii)    As Chairman of the Parish Council I should like to thank my fellow Councillors for their varying contributions to the business of the Council, especially to those who work so hard between our monthly meetings (see Appendix A). In particular, the under mentioned in the roles specified:

•    Cllr Joseph Siddall – new Vice Chair of the Council & Lead Councillor for the Village Hall Refurbishment Working Group
•    Cllr John Downs – Chair of the Planning Liaison Committee
•    Cllr John Hill – Chair of the Property Committee and Hon. Tree Advisor
•    Cllr Mrs Susan Harland – Chair of the Mulsanne Park Users Committee
•    Cllr Richard Porter Chair of the Fieldpaths Advisory Committee and Lead Councillor of the Play Equipment Working Group
•    Cllr Mike Spencer – Hon. Buildings Advisor to the Council
•    Cllr Terry Williams – Hon. Legal Advisor to the Council

Cllr John Evans – Chairman
Nettleham Parish Council
19 April 2017