title="Eastwick & Gilston Parish Council in Hertfordshire">
Sat, 30th August 2014

2011/2012 Chairmans Report - Parish Council

2011/2012 Chairmans Report - Parish Council

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2011/12

 

The purpose of this report is to give a summary of what the Parish Council has been doing during the last year and to comment on the major issues that we are facing as a parish. There is more information available on all these subjects on our website at www.eastwickandgilston.org.uk and also the STOP Harlow North website at www.stopharlownorth.com

Two councillors did not stand for re-election in May last year and we also had a further vacancy at that time.   We have been fortunate to be joined by three new Parish Councillors - Spike Hughes and Paul Whiting both representing Eastwick who joined in July and Amanda Olsen representing Gilston who joined in September. This brings the Parish Council to full strength

During the year, the Parish Council has held six Parish Council meetings and an Annual Parish meeting.  Individual Parish Councillors took the following responsibilities.

Mark Orson – Chairman - Parish Paths, Parish Website and Planning Matters

Spike Hughes – Vice Chairman - STOP Harlow North representative

Tim Geddes – Parish Plan Steering Group representative

Keith Harvey – Highways Matters

Amanda Olsen – STOP Harlow North representative

Paul Whiting

Christine Law – Parish Clerk

Parish Plan

Last year we tried to get a Frontrunners Grant to fund development of a Neighbourhood Plan under the new Localism Bill to complement our Parish Plan and to strengthen our position in development of the District Local Plan. There are significant changes under discussion within our parish that will have a substantial and long term impact on the community that lives here. For example - Terlings Park and the restoration of Pole Hole Quarry. We have clear ideas and views on these subjects and how they might fit with other initiatives in the Stort Valley and with the potential of the Gilston Great Park concept. Our views are based on consultation with our residents through the Parish Plan which achieved a 66% response and we are keen and enthusiastic to work with East Herts to develop a Neighbourhood Plan that builds on this.

Unfortunately East Herts did not feel able to sponsor our request and advised us that any Neighbourhood Plan prepared in advance of the new legislation being produced will need to be prepared under the current regulations that govern the production of Development Plan Documents. This is a more complex procedure for preparing a Neighbourhood Plan and therefore they recommend to any group interested in undertaking neighbourhood planning that they wait for the relevant legislation to be introduced, at some point in 2012. Their recommendation to us was to wait until the Localism Bill has been enacted, and further progress has been made on progressing the Council’s Core Strategy, anticipated summer 2012, before any substantive work is done on a Neighbourhood Plan. We are now gearing up to take this process forward and the Parish Council will be working with Anthony Bickmore who chairs the Parish Plan Steering Group and members of the team. If you are interested to find out more about this work and perhaps to become involved please contact Anthony Bickmore or myself.

Barn Owl Project

Last year we successfully applied for a Big Lottery Fund Awards for All scheme Grant to provide 40 Barn Owl nesting boxes to encourage Barn Owls to live and breed in this area. So far we have installed 26 out of the 40 boxes and expect to finish the work by the end of July. We have worked with a project team consisting of local volunteers and representatives of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to identify possible locations for the boxes, talk to landowners, and to plan the spread of distribution for the boxes to ensure that they are evenly and safely located. We held a workshop to build the flat pack boxes and hold regular project team meetings to keep everything on track. The project team is now planning some talks and walks to tell residents more about the project and give the opportunity to see some of the installed barn owl boxes. More detail will be published on our website and in the Parish Magazine.

We were able to make substantial savings against our original Barn Owl Project budget as we identified a satisfactory lower cost supply of the nesting boxes and were able to use volunteers to assemble the boxes. We asked the Big Lottery Fund if we could request a variation in scope to the original project to also provide 15 to 20 bat boxes which we will site within our area. We have been advised by the Herts & Middlesex Bat Group who are working to further bat conservation in Hertfordshire and Middlesex and are associated with the Bat Conservation Trust of the types of Bat that can be found locally based on their surveys and the types and cost of appropriate bat boxes. We will need to determine the exact mix and sites for boxes and again are intending to complete this work by the end of July. If you would like to know more or possibly become involved in this part of the project please contact me or Christine Law, Parish Clerk, on 411646 or email christine.law2@btinternet.com.

More information about Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust can be found on their web site www.hertswildlifetrust.org.uk and the Herts & Middlesex Bat Group at www.hmbg.org.uk

Harlow North

The Parish Council continues to be strongly opposed to the proposals of Harlow North Joint Venture (HNJV) to build 10,000 homes around Eastwick and Gilston by 2031 and the campaign has been maintained during the year with STOP Harlow North (SHN).

The new government has now passed the Localism Act that allows for the abolition of this regional strategy. We expect that to happen in the near future once the assessment of the environmental impact has been concluded.

East Herts Council still has to prepare their Local Development Framework or Local Plan.  The first major step was to identify what it believed were the ‘Issues and Options’, which it did from mid-2008 to mid-2010. This was reported on last year.

East Herts Council’s next step, which is currently underway, is to take account of the public consultation and a variety of technical studies in identifying the Preferred Options.  That report is due to be presented to the ‘LDF Executive Panel’ in July this year and to be ratified by Full Council thereafter.  That will be followed by (another) public consultation on the Preferred Options starting in September and an Independent Examination of the Final Submission in 2013 before finally being adopted.  SHN is, of course, planning to co-ordinate responses to each of those reviews as and when we know the recommendations.

Given the outcome of the Issues and Options public consultation and the Council’s stated opposition to Harlow North then we believe there are grounds to be optimistic that Harlow North will be removed from the Preferred Options.  However we should never forget quite how much power and influence developers have and so cannot be complacent.

Please see the STOP Harlow North website at www.stopharlownorth.com for full information on our campaign and subscribe to the newsletter for detailed updates.

Gilston Great Park

Gilston Great Park is still very much on the agenda and work towards this concept can be carried out and much achieved irrespective of the future use of the green belt and farmland in our parish. All Parishes north of Harlow are united in their view of an appropriate future for the area.  It is one of conservation of the rural economy, landscape enhancement and the introduction of more leisure uses.  These views are set out in the plan for Gilston Great Park.  The Gilston Great Park plan is consistent with the Green Infrastructure Plan prepared by local authorities and Natural England. More information will be published in the Parish Magazine and website as progress is made.

Terlings Park

The Outline Planning application for residential development at Terlings Park was withdrawn in August 2011 and we were informed in March by CBRE (Merck Sharp and Dohme’s agent) that MSD was once again exploring possibilities to sell the site. We understand that the reason for this decision was that MSD had been unable to agree the mix (percentage and type of tenure) of affordable housing for the site with East Herts Council. They decided that they would sell the site as it exists and focus on their core business of pharmaceuticals rather than property development. We have now been informed that Angle Property Ltd www.angleproperty.co.uk has purchased the Terlings Park site from MSD without conditions. They are not going to develop the site themselves but intend to obtain residential planning and package the site for development before involving a development company which would either become the new owner or as joint venture partner with Angle Property.

We have had an introductory meeting with Angle Property and there will be further meetings to discuss their plans in more detail and to agree conditions for development of the site that will be proposed  to East Herts Council for inclusion in the planning process. There will also be meetings with East Herts Council planners and we will keep residents informed of progress through the Parish Magazine and our website www.eastwickandgilston.org.uk.

Pole Hole Quarry Restoration

Last year an application was made to Herts County Council for the final restoration and closure of the site phased over a five year period. For a number of reasons this application was subsequently withdrawn and there have been ongoing discussion between Herts County Council and the operator to make progress. At the time of writing we have been advised by Herts County Council that the operator is discussing options before deciding whether to pursue a further application. We will continue to keep you informed as more becomes known through our website and the Parish Magazine.

Planning

We have had a number of planning applications to comment on during the year and most have been reasonably straightforward and non contentious changes to existing properties.  The major planning issues affecting our area are addressed by Terlings Park, Pole Hole Quarry Restoration, our Parish Plan and the STOP Harlow North campaign.

Highways

We continue to work closely with Highways to ensure that Highways maintenance activities are carried out effectively and meet our local needs.  As with all local services Highways work is governed by budget and availability of resources and getting work carried out in a timely manner can sometimes be a frustrating struggle.  However we have an agreed schedule of outstanding work and take every opportunity to push for priority treatment.

Parish Paths

The Parish footpath network is a real asset and I would again encourage anyone who hasn’t walked them to try and find the time as it will give you another perspective on our local area.  Our footpaths are well maintained and we have continued to keep them so during the last year with grants and practical help from the Rights of Way department and Countryside Management Service. 

We had hoped to install some additional footpath benches this year but unfortunately have been unable to make progress. We contacted Ropemaker Properties Ltd’s agent Savills about installing the benches on Ropemaker’s land within the parish. However, Ropemaker is not prepared to discuss this at the present time.

You will find a number of display maps of the footpath network located around the parishes including both the Eastwick and Gilston War Memorial sites.

Parish Precept

You will have recently received the booklet from East Herts District Council outlining your rates for 2012/2013. Part of the rates is made up of the Parish Precept which is set by the Parish Council to cover small running costs and a number of initiatives we undertake. The amount attaching to your rates for the parish is a function of what we spend and the number of properties and their valuation bands in the area.

This year we deliberately maintained our precept at the same level for the fifth year running.

If you have views on how we should spend our money and if we should spend more or less then let one of the Parish Councillors know or attend a Parish Council meeting. We are always keen to hear views and enjoy the interaction with members of the public at the meetings – all are welcome

Website

Our new community website is now live at www.eastwickandgilston.org.uk with, we think, a fresh new look and a lot of new features. If you have any suggestions for additional content then please let us know.

This is a community website and we are looking for local groups who would like to use the facilities available to support their activities. The website can provide a section that will allow you to post and update information, photos and web links and include discussion forums. No costs or charges will apply for use of the site.

For more information and to discuss your ideas please contact Christine Law, Parish Clerk, on 411646 or email christine.law2@btinternet.com.

Thanks to Bob Mitchell our developer for all his work building and supporting the previous website. 

Conclusion

Overall, we have made good progress and there are clearly some challenges for the year ahead. We are fortunate to have a dedicated and hard working team of Councillors. They devote a lot of their time for the benefit of the community which is unpaid and they claim no expenses. Thanks to Mike Newman and Roger Beeching who are our District and County Councillors respectively they give valued support to the Parish Council.

Thanks also to Christine Law, our Parish Clerk. Without Christine, the Parish Council simply wouldn’t function.

 

Mark Orson 

 

Eastwick & Gilston Parish Council – 2011/12 Annual Report

The financial position at 31st March 2012 and results for the year ended are detailed below together with comparisons to prior year and budget. Explanatory notes on the 2011/12 financial report are available from the Parish Clerk and are published on the parish website.

 

 

 

RECEIPTS

 

 

PAYMENTS

 

2010/2011

 

2011/2012

2010/2011

 

2011/2012

£4,900.00

Precept

£4,900.00

£4,197.52

General Administration

£8,079.37

£7.48

Interest on Investments

£7.48

0

Capital Spending – Memorial Bench - Eastwick

£1273.88

0

Grants – Barn Owl Boxes

£6,847.00

0

Barn Owl Boxes

£4537.55

£400.00

Donation – Shire Controls

0

 

Running costs:

 

£75.21

VAT Refund

£1,713.09

0

Parish Paths

0

£80.00

Parish Maps sale

0

£230

War Memorials

£165.00

£510.00

Advertising – Parish Magazine

£570.00

£433.84

Churchyards

£400.00

0

Donations - Parish Plan re  consultation

£1,663.25

£806.00

Parish Magazine

£766.70

£1,000.00

HCC – locality budget grant

0

£509.20

EHDC elections 2007

0

 

 

 

0

Parish Plan

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

£6,972.69

TOTAL RECEIPTS

£15,700.82

£6,176.56

TOTAL PAYMENTS

£15,222.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECEIPTS AND 

PAYMENTS

SUMMARY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance brought forward

£3,898.68

 

 

 

ADD

Total Receipts

£15,700.82

 

 

 

LESS

Total Payments

£15,222.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance

Carried forward

£4,377.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funds

Represented by:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Account

£2,951.15

 

 

 

 

Reserve Account

£1,698.30

 

 

 

 

Sub total

£4,649.45

 

 

 

 

Uncashed cheques

£272.45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

£4,377.00