Before I deliver my report for 2019, I would like us to take a moment to reflect on some recent very sad news and that was that District Councillor Nigel Wren passed away. Nigel died last week after a very brave battle with his illness. Nigel was a committed supporter of this Council, always cheerful and professional and ready to help us whenever he could for which we will always be grateful, our condolences have been passed to his family and our thoughts are with them at this sad time. This year we also lost two former Chairman and Parish Councillors, Brian Ahern and David Roach, both gentlemen committed themselves to this community with their work on the Parish Council.
I think it fitting that we observe a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for these three gentlemen and reflect on how they helped shape the community we live in.
I reviewed the PC agenda for this time last year and you won’t be surprised to learn that lots of the same projects are still part of our work in progress, although with some significant changes.
Whereas at this time last year we were pursuing the final phases of opening the new Centre on Endal Way and the transfers of the Bowls Club and Crimea Barn, this year we can celebrate the new Centre opening, the Bowls Club opening next week, incidentally, the Bowls Club now have their licence to occupy, from yesterday, so they are now in control at the Club. And to top it all the transfer of the Crimea Barn to the Parish Council came through recently, a pretty momentous year for any Parish Council.
As well as the work completed by the Parish Council, the opening of the new Centre would not have been possible without the Trustees of the charity formed to lease and run the new Centre, The Clanfield Sports and Community Foundation Ltd: under the Chairmanship of Mr Rich Goodman assisted by Mr Dean Cooper, Vice Chair, Councillor John Bannell, myself, Mrs Emma Neal, Mrs Helen Glover, Mr Gareth Williams, Mrs Faye Hunt, Mr Ken Finlay , all volunteers who, in the main, hold down full-time jobs and have families and personal commitments to consider. They have and continue to work extremely hard with a huge commitment to deliver a Sports and Community facility that seeks to provide something for everyone, be that sport or a community activity. This is an ongoing project dedicated to serving the community, it requires dedication, determination, energy and vision and we as a Parish Council are 100% behind them.
Councillor Brian Foster, who is a Trustee of the Bowls Club has worked alongside the other Trustee’s, Chairman, Michael Trippick, Martyn Scott and Graham Withers, they have been assisted by Peter Crowley, a volunteer green keeper who has the green in perfect condition, they again are all volunteers who have played a significant role in preparing the club for opening next week and their determination, energy and hard work is to be commended and again the Parish Council are 100% behind them.
We have had two new Councillors join our team this year, Councillors Dave Harris and Peter Hurst, who will add experience and commitment to the projects that the Parish Council undertake this year.
I think it’s fair to say that all Parish Councillors, Diane, our Parish Clerk and Emma, our Open Spaces Officer have had an extremely busy year and that will not change as we move into 2019. The PC have been supported enthusiastically and financially by our County Councillor, Rob Mocatta, and our District Councillors, Ken Moon and the late Nigel Wren, they have supported all of the projects that we have been involved with and I would like to thank them for their continued support as we now move on to develop these projects and continue to make Clanfield a very desirable place to live and work and a community that people are proud to be part of.
Councillors have taken on the various projects with determination, dedication and a positive outlook giving up their time freely to see the projects they are involved in move forward, which in a lot of cases has been frustratingly slow, however, we continue to give our best efforts in serving the community. I think it only fair here that I single out Councillor John Bannell who has been heavily involved in all these projects and whose dedication and professionalism was recognised this year with a Volunteer of the Year Award, well deserved and a fitting tribute to his work on behalf of the community.
Councillors have continued to work with other volunteers to improve and maintain South Lane Meadow and the village pond for the benefit of all villagers too and soon we expect to see work commence on the Accessibility Project designed to improve access for pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users to travel safety and easily between key destinations within the village.
The Crimea Barn Project led by Councillors Rosemary Clarke and Steven Dest ’Hoare will be a huge interest to the community this year and for a few years to come, a significant amount of funding will need to be found to finance the project, something both Rosemary and Stephen are working on but would welcome support on this from anyone with experience or a willingness to be involved. Volunteers will take a key role in this project and the more volunteers that can be brought on board the better, it’s a good news story that needs to be managed well and promoted, the development of the site won’t happen overnight and keeping the local community well informed will keep the project rolling and maintain the interest of the community.
Councillors, Stephen Dest ‘Hoare, Rosemary Clarke and Peter Hurst assisted by volunteer Trustees Roland Howes, Brenda Mizzen, David Charleton and Bob wheeler form the South Lane Meadow Trustees who manage the meadow and its activities.
Councillor Stephen Williams has led the project to have defibrators placed at key points in the village, finance has been provided by our District Councillor, Ken Moon and by the Parish. There are now deliberators here at the Memorial Hall, the Co-op, the new Sports & Community Centre and Peel Park and we expect one to be installed at the new Bowls Club soon.
Our new Parish Councillor, Dave Harris, along with Councillors Margaret White, Sally Thomas and Rosemary Clerk, supported by volunteers, Karen Crookshank and Barbara Norman have taken the task of establishing a new set of Bye Laws that will apply to whole village, we will here more about that later this evening.
There are other roles undertaken by Parish Councillors throughout the year, such as, Planning Which Councillor Margaret White chairs, Margaret, along with Diane review the planning applications and make site visits and present their findings at the monthly planning meetings attended by myself, Councillors Stephen Williams, Rosemary Clarke and Stephen Dest ‘Hoare. Margaret also attends meetings on the health welfare issues affecting the village.
Councillor Brian Foster looks after transport issues that affect the village, he and former Parish Councillor, Rhian Beesly, also organised the ‘Carols’ service event at Christmas. This year the event was moved to the new Centre as the event had outgrown the existing venue at the Village Pond. The event was a huge success and raised over £400 for the Rowans Hospice.
I’m sure you will agree that’s quite a workload for the Parish Councillors here in Clanfield, not only has there been a huge amount of work for us to do but our Parish Clerk, Diane, has the unenviable task of keeping us on track, offering support and direction to make sure we work within the guidelines, no mean task I’m sure you will agree. Diane’s role cannot be underestimated, without her experience and guidance I for one would be left floundering around the myriad of rules and regulations in place to run this Parish.
It’s plain to see that the projects the Parish is working on incur costs and whilst the Parish has made some provision in past years these projects it was necessary to increase the precept for this year, however, the increase was kept to under 2%, and I am convinced that members of the community understand that the increase was needed to help the Parish Council continue to make Clanfield a great place to live with community and leisure facilities that are the envy of many in this county and our surrounding area.
The PC have been able to make grants available to various groups and good cause throughout the year, these include:
£500 to the NHS Trust Fund toward the provision of more comfortable chairs in recovery rooms, this was, of course, a request championed by late friend District Councillor Nigel Wren.
£200 to Horndean Tech College for the Older persons Xmas lunch
£200 to Victim Support
£300 to Home start Butser
I would like to conclude my report with this observation,
You may remember that we had some exceptionally good weather for a few days in February, on Sunday the 23rd of February, which was an exceptionally good day with temperatures around 20*C, my wife Sylvie had a walk around the whole village, we saw football being played at Peel Park, teenagers using the skate park, children using the play equipment. In South Lane Meadow and Sunderton Meadow lots of people were walking their dogs, there were children using the play equipment. We continued our walk around to the new Sports & Community Centre, the MUGA was being used by a group of boys and girls playing football, there were children in the playpark, the Centre car park was almost full, with people enjoying the activities taking place at the Centre and having coffee in the Café’. The tennis courts were being used, there was even a small group of children having a picnic on the green space behind the Centre. Up at the allotments people were taking advantage of the good weather to do some early digging and tiding up. We walked by the Bowls Club Bowls Club and although not open it was easy to imagine sitting there in the sunshine with a fabulous view over the Country Park and Butser Hill watching a Bowls match taking place, what a gorgeous venue.
All in all this has confirmed to us what a lovely place Clanfield is to live and I think we can all take some pride in the part we have played in bringing these facilities to the community, whether you are part of the Parish Council, District or County Council, volunteers, Trustees or from EHDC, everyone has played a part and I think what we have achieved here should be shared wherever there are opportunities to provide a similar experience in this county, we have a good story to tell.
That concludes my report for 2019 suffice to say, this of course is my last Chairman’s report as I will be stepping down in May from this position on the front bench as it were and moving to the back benches, I would personally like to thank all Parish Councillors, past and present, our District and County Councillors, colleagues at EHDC and the volunteers working with PC for their hard work and support for the Parish and me in my time as Chairman.