Chairman's report for year 2012-13

Report to Council 2013

David Barlow - Chair of Ashwick Parish Council.

Once again the work of the Council has tended to focus on planning issues around the Parish.  Although Mendip may not always agree with our recommendations on planning applications they are legally obliged to consult with us.  Amongst the applications, we have considered house extensions, an application for a new garage, the removal of Condition 4, relating to agricultural occupancy of a dwelling, proposals for a tennis court, installation of new fencing to specific areas around Pondsmead Care Home, raising the roof on one property, and pre-application consultations, one residential and a second for a business.  We have also regularly considered tree work and this year Councillors have also been consulted on applications for wind Turbines in neighbouring parishes   The Council supports alternative forms of energy but considers each on its own merits.  When consulted we supported the application at Warren Farm, but recommended refusal for the application at Maesbury Quarry.  Along with these discussions the Council has also begun researching the challenging topic of ‘Fracking’.   Peter Langmaid and David Gilson have been carrying out further research on behalf of the Council as this could be a contentious subject and we need to base our possible future decisions on hard facts.

During the year we have registered our concerns over the Brewery site, supporting Parishioners’ concerns over health and safety and unsightly spoil heaps.  Following Bat surveys carried out during the autumn, recent weeks have seen the beginning of work on the site, beginning initially with accommodation for the colony of bats.  Unsociable working hours were an issue but hopefully these have become more acceptable, following a letter sent to the Mendip.

Last year saw the village’s successful celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Because of excellent planning and publicity, the BL Committee chaired by Pam Dennis delivered a memorable afternoon enjoyed by the community even though it rained.  Although the Council had pledged £1000 to support the event, it wasn’t drawn on as sponsors came forward to finance the afternoon.

The observant members of the community will have noticed the recent addition of a ‘Wild Service’ tree planted on the Recreation Ground to mark the Jubilee.  The purchase represents the final monies raised from the event plus a small sum from the council to cover costs.  This is a native tree, broadleaf deciduous, with brilliant red/coppery leaves in the autumn and decorative white clusters of flowers in late spring.

The Council has been grateful to Liz Rose for work around the footpaths of the Parish- keeping footpaths clear.  This year Liz decided to finish this voluntary role and we are fortunate that Janis Thomson has agreed to continue the task. 

Surveys of the Parish Footpaths have been started, walking as many as possible, noting any defects and reporting them to County.  We receive notification from County of any works carried out on the Parish footpaths.

The Council has received regular reports from our Mendip and County Council representatives relating to budgeting, County policies and decisions impacting upon the council.  In turn we have recorded our concerns over pot holes, the state of the footpath leading into the village bordering Pondsmead.  Flooding issues near Fiveways and just below Rookery Farm along Ashwick Hill have been reported but as yet neither has been resolved. 

We have been in touch with the management company for Pondsmead over the condition of their boundary walls, specifically along the Bath Road leading to the Surgery and along Dye Lane.  We await survey reports from them

The Council has received updates from the SID (Speed Indicator Device) sited outside the school and in Gurney Slade and we are exploring the purchase of a permanent SID but are waiting a decision from County.  We have been concerned about speeding vehicles along the High Street and have requested speed check, but as yet we have received minimal data.

More recently we have discussed the Telephone Kiosk sited in Neighbourne, the use of the Parish Notice Boards, the need to mark Dean Lane as ‘No Through Road’ and the possibility of relocating the lighting column at the end of Zion Hill to give light to Dean Lane itself.

We have received monthly financial statements from Sandrine, agreed to keep the Precept at £9000 and have also agreed to commit £4000 spread over 2years to support the Village Hall Committee with their plans to carry out urgent maintenance on the Village hall and Play Area.

We have met with Jackie Smith, the newly appointed Village Agent whose role is to work in the community, building a relationship with those who are more vulnerable, to help improve their quality of life.  She has access to a wide range of information to give support where necessary.  There is a regular newsletter from her in the Parish Magazine and can be contacted on her mobile 07950 782436 or by email [email protected]

On behalf of the Council I would wish to thank Sandrine our hardworking Clerk who juggles with all our requests and keeps us well informed.

Thank you to all Councillors for their attendance and contributions at our monthly meetings, thanks to Peter Langmaid and Peter Dennis for their work on the parish website and through them, Jack Stringer who provides technical support.

The resignation of Janis Thomson has created a vacancy which we have still to fill.  I would like to record our thanks to her for her contributions when serving as a Councillor.

Once again our thanks go to Jamie and Alex Williams who have walked, run and cycled their way around the parish ensuring parishioners were made aware of the Annual Meeting.