KELVEDON HATCH PARISH COUNCIL


 

Report to the Annual Parish Meeting
To be held on Friday, 9th May, 2008
From the Chairman of the Parish Council

2007/8

It is a requirement, under the Local Government Act 1972, that a Parish Meeting be held annually. Where there is also a Parish Council it falls to the Chairman, or other members of that body, to call the meeting. Thus, although it is an entirely separate meeting from Parish Council meetings, inevitably in practice there is a link between the two. It follows that my report will be based primarily upon the discussions and work of the Parish Council.

Following Parish Council elections in May, 2007, I was elected Chairman to succeed Cllr Derek Hardy who, having filled a vacancy during the previous year, did not wish to continue in that role. Chris James was elected as Vice-Chairman.

I am grateful to the members of various committees and working groups for their endeavours over the past year. There are three committees, Finance, Environment and Planning. In addition we have two working groups, Community Relations and Village Hall. The Parish Council, through its various sub-groups where appropriate, endeavours to ensure that Kelvedon Hatch remains an attractive place to live. To this end further daffodil bulbs and other flower seeds have been sewn and planters maintained. Once again, slightly later than last year, a "litter pick" has been organised for Saturday, 17th May. Members of the Environment Committee monitor conditions in the roads of the village so that any problems or general works can either be dealt with locally by our contractors or reported to Brentwood Borough Council for action.

During the year a small team of volunteers has operated under the banner of Community Speed Watch. Armed with a Police speed gun they have, on several occasions, noted the details of vehicles that have exceeded speed limits and reported these to the Police for appropriate action. The team is also authorised to note details where a driver is using a hand held mobile 'phone.

On another road safety issue, we have been waiting for some time for the installation of Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS's), near to Crown Corner, as part of work proposed following a meeting between County, Borough and Parish Councillors and officials. This was a response to some serious accidents involving damage to some of the cottages known as The Briars and The Thorns and vehicles parked outside. We have recently been given encouraging news that the work should progress during the current financial year.

We have endeavoured to ensure that the play area on the Village Hall field is maintained in good condition. In this respect the area undergoes a thorough independent inspection each year and any work recommended has been actioned. There are also more frequent inspections carried out by the Borough Council on our behalf.

A small group has walked all the footpaths (i.e. numbered paths, bridleways and byways) within the parish boundary and noted any work that needs to be carried out. Much of this has or will be undertaken by Brentwood Countryside Management Service.

Our Planning Committee has looked at all planning applications relating to the parish and, where appropriate, has made comment to the Borough Council in an effort to make improvements to the proposals. In some cases it has been necessary to oppose an application in order to protect the green belt, a listed building, the street scene and/or the general amenity.

From time to time concern has been expressed by members of the public about possible dangerous emissions both from the BT radio mast and from the various aerials sited on the water tower. We have received assurances from both BT and Vodaphone (who use the water tower) that emissions are extremely low in comparison with safety threshold levels.

Once again we hosted a very successful Christmas lunch and party for the senior citizens of the parish, one of prime responsibilities of our Community Relations Group. An issue that remains unchanged is the matter of the use of the Village Hall field (Poors Field) by members of the public. Soon after the new council was established last May, a small working party was formed to look into all that had gone before and to make recommendations to full Parish Council. Whilst progress has been made, we have not yet reached the point of resolution and, at the time of writing, the Parish Council awaits a professional valuation of the field for recreational purposes. It is because of the uncertainty surrounding the amount that the Parish Council might have to pay to the Trustees of Kelvedon Hatch Village Hall that the budget recently set was considerably higher than might have been the case. However, other factors were also brought into the equation, including a further reduction in the discretionary grant made to all parishes by the Borough Council.

Sadly, the budget brought matters to a head for three councillors who felt it necessary to resign. Two of the vacancies have been filled but it remains for the Parish Council to co-opt in order to fill the remaining vacancy.

On a brighter note, it is good to know that there are many voluntary groups and organisations operating in the village, many of which make use of the facilities provided by the Village Hall and the Fane Hall. These provide excellent opportunities for our villagers, of all ages, to play, learn and socialise.

Once again, I thank all my colleagues on the Parish Council for their help and dedication to their respective roles. Also, my thanks to Borough and County Councillors who attend our meetings and provide useful information and advice. Finally, my thanks to Derek Munro, our Clerk, for all he has done over the past year.

Christopher Jardine
Chairman
Kelvedon Hatch Parish Council