Annual Parish Meeting Chairman’s Report

Here’s the Chairman’s report from the Annual Parish Meeting held on 27th April 2021.

Annual Parish Meeting

Good evening and welcome to our Annual Parish Meeting; an especially warm welcome to members of the public who are joining us tonight. Before we start I would like to ask the members of the Parish Council to introduce themselves.

For the past three years this annual meeting has taken the form of a Saturday morning Community Event in the Bouverie Hall, with opportunities to meet councillors, hear about current projects and for a public question-and-answer session. Sadly such an event is not possible at the moment but we are bound by local government regulations to hold a meeting annually, hence our Zoom meeting this evening. We intend to hold a Community morning on a Saturday in early autumn (date to be arranged) at which we will present our Annual Community Awards, as well as lots of information about what is going on in our Parish.

Before I start my report I would like to mention that we marshalled for St John’s Church on Remembrance Sunday, seems ages ago now.

We also had a condolence book in the Bouverie Hall in memory of HRH Duke of Edinburgh; we did this because not everyone has on line facility. We received a letter from HM Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mrs. Sarah Rose Troughton thanking us for doing this.

Tonight, I am going to start with a brief outline of our work over the past year, ongoing projects, and plans for the future. I will also call upon some of our councillors to give us more information about particular issues or works they have been involved with. There will be an opportunity for questions from the public afterwards.

This past year has been a memorable one for us all and we have all had to adapt to different ways of doing things. With Spring comes the hope of new beginnings and let us hope that we can start to return to some sort of normality as restrictions are eased further next month. Whilst we are very fortunate to live in this beautiful rural area, with relatively low Covid rates, we must not let ourselves become complacent, and should continue to observe all relevant guidelines to keep ourselves and our community safe.

The pandemic has been detrimental in numerous ways, but it has also had the positive effect of encouraging many more people to volunteer their time and talents for the benefit of their community. I would like to thank the PCCA team once again for taking the lead in helping support the most vulnerable members of our community. The Parish Council played a significant role “behind the scenes” in helping to establish the PCCA by providing help with the day-to-day management of their funds and in obtaining “start up grants” on their behalf, but the “hands-on” work they were able to provide has been invaluable.

As I mentioned, our work with the PCCA was “behind the scenes” and in fact much of what we do as a Parish Council might be described in this way; not immediately obvious, but if we did not do it, I am sure it would be missed. So I would just like to list a few of the things we are involved in:

  1. Maintenance of seven village play areas, (We are extremely concerned that we have recently had an increase in vandalism) If anyone knows who is doing this please contact us. We also manage various amenity green spaces, organising grass cutting, and hedging and litter collection. As well as Wilcot Road Cemetery, The Scotchel, The Grove and Ways Way. Earlier this year we negotiated and signed a “Service Devolution and Asset Transfer Agreement” with Wiltshire Council. We merged Wiltshire Councils responsibilities with our own by negotiating a 3-year contract with I de Verde. This 3 year contract will give us more control of various areas of the village and we have and will continue with the help of volunteers to review how they are maintained either by re-wilding or other means. You will have all seen the work by Cllr Kerry Pycroft and her team in the Bouverie Hall Car Park and the Grove..
  2. The Bouverie Hall Car Park and a majority of Hallgate House Car Park, formerly leased from Wilshire Council, are now owned by us. This has enabled us to keep parking free in the village, thereby supporting local business. We also own and maintain the free public toilets in Goddard Road.
  3. The Parish Council supports numerous village activities, and makes annual contributions to the Heritage Centre, the Messenger, and Pewsey Carnival. Many local sports clubs have benefitted from funds from our Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), including Pewsey Vale Senior and Junior Football Clubs, the Bowls Club, and (upcoming) the Pewsey Vale School Canopy.
  4. It is worth mentioning that we own the land that is rented to The Senior Football Club, Tennis Club, Bowls Club, Rugby Club and The Youth Football Club. We have always believed that it’s in the best interest of all to keep the rents very low, increased yearly by RIP. Our philosophy has always been leaving whatever money the Clubs raise to re invest in the future of their clubs, the best for all of us.
  5. Cllr Dave McGarry assisted by his wife Susie checks and maintains our defibrillators.
  6. We have representation on the Pewsey Area Community Partnership (PCAP), a group comprised of members from the 26 parishes of the Pewsey Vale. PCAP is extremely important as it allows us a much stronger voice on issues such as Policing, Transport, and Local Planning. Groups within PCAP include Pewsey Health and Wellbeing Group, Pewsey Railway Users Group, the Community Area Transport Group, the Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership, (Pewsey Walkers Accreditation and Itineraries projects) and, more recently, the Pewsey Vale Recovery Group. The Local Youth Network (LYN)
  7. We are very supportive of maintaining our Area Board and are regular attendees at their Bi-Monthly meetings. It has been and always will be the closest we can get to express our views to Wiltshire Council. 
  8. The Parish Council initiated the Pewsey Allotment Association in 2018, to enable allotment holders to contact each other, share knowledge and expertise, and provide a collective voice with which to approach the Parish Council with ideas and initiatives or any issues they had. Currently there are 26 members from across the two sites at Easterton Lane and the Leisure centre. As restrictions ease and more social interaction is permitted we would hope to encourage more allotment holders to join. Occasional working parties or purely social gatherings might be arranged.
  9. The Parish Council is pleased to support a newly formed group Pewsey Avon River Restoration (PARR). Its founder, parishioner Stuart Murray sought to enable a healthier river flow through the village and enlisted the help of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, The Wild Trout Trust, and ourselves. At the beginning of May a river survey will be undertaken by the Wild Trout Trust, funded by Pewsey Parish Council.
  10. Our village is fortunate to have a committed band of volunteer litter pickers who help to keep our village tidy. It is disappointing that their hard work continues to be necessary, but we are pleased to support their ongoing efforts by funding new supplies of equipment.
  11. The Parish Council has been trying to develop more facilities for youth, and has installed some outdoor gym equipment at Easterton Lane. A wheeled-sports area has been on our wish list for many years and despite numerous set-backs we have not given up looking for a suitable site. Acoustic surveys on four possible sites within the village have recently been done and we await the report with interest. We hope to have some encouraging news soon. Cllr Marilyn Hunt leader of this project added a few words on progress.
  12. Over the past few years we have been trying to encourage stronger links between the Council and our primary and secondary schools, including reciprocal visits with the Pewsey Primary School Council. It has been a very difficult time for all schools and just before the first lockdown we were talking to Pewsey Vale School who we hoped would let us do something similar with their students by way of reciprocal meetings. This has of course not been possible over the past year but we hope it can be resumed as Covid guidelines allow.
  13. Most recently, a number of Parish Councillors have taken on the role of Covid Vaccine Marshalls, under the leadership of Councillor Ann Hogg who is our representative on the Patient Participation Group (PPG). Along with other volunteers from our community we have been able to assist with the local delivery of the vaccine programme from which so many of us have already benefitted.
  14. The Parish Council will continue to engage with Wiltshire Council with regards to suggested changes at Meadow Court.

For anyone who wishes to find out about our work, the Parish Council website is regularly updated, and minutes from all meetings are published, along with our accounts. Our Parish Clerk, Alison Kent can be contacted on 562014. Our Parish office open morning (Tuesday) is currently suspended but we would hope to resume this soon. In the meantime, some of the ideas for the future include;

* Climate Change programme, We are currently investigating Electric Car charging points and the planting of amenity green spaces for wild flowers.

*Youth Fun Days during the school holidays on Sunday July 25th and Sunday August 22nd. Organised by Dawn Wilson, funded by the LYN and Pewsey Parish Council. We will also use these days to engage with our youth for ideas in the future.

*Improving Parish Council visibility and ease of contact, with photos/mini biographies/individual contact details on our website and notice boards.

* Producing a Revised Neighbourhood Development Plan.

We welcome comments and suggestions from the public, including constructive criticism, and will do our best to explain the reasoning behind the decisions we make.

As you are no doubt aware, local elections take place on May 6th, and all 21 Parish seats will be available. Twelve current councillors are seeking re-election, but nine others are/have stood down, including two particularly long-serving ones:

Peter Deck has steered us through many difficult planning issues and took the lead in producing the Neighbourhood Development Plan for Pewsey, subsequently endorsed by public vote, and accepted by Wiltshire Council. Peter said he few words on the Parish Council position with regards to the Wilcot Road planning application.

Phil Stevens has been a dedicated advocate for children and has managed and maintained the numerous play areas around our village with dedication and hard graft. Phil Stevens said a few words about his time with PPC.

We thank them both for their many years of service. Thanks also to former councillors who have stood down during the past year or so; Terry Eyles, Jim Hagan and David Smith, and to those standing down at these elections; Ros Carmichael Owen, James Del Mar, Andrea Saunders, and Neil Stephens.

Councillors seeking Re-election:

Alex CARDER, Caroline DALRYMPLE, John FORD, Richard GILES, Curly HASKELL, Ann HOGG, Marilyn HUNT, Dave McGARRY, Bill MORRIS, Kerry PYCROFT, Michael SMITHERS, and Elizabeth STEVENS

Other Nominated Candidates

Lisa BRINDLEY, Katrina ELLIS, Andrew ENGLAND, Adrian GARRETT, David HUGHES, Elizabeth HUMFRESS, Oliver HUSSICK, Rob KING, Judith KUNKLER, Linda MUNDY, Tracey PULLEN, Erin TURNER, Andrew WISBEY

It is heartening to see so many people willing to give up what can be a substantial amount of their time for the community and I send my best wishes to all those standing.

Please exercise your vote, either by post (if you have a postal vote) or in person at the Vale Community Campus (aka Leisure Centre, Wilcot Road) on May 6th.

Curly Haskell, (Current) Chairman, Pewsey Parish Council