Article for December/January Messenger

By the time you read this it will be early December, heading quickly to Christmas and the New Year. I hope all your plans are well in hand and you are looking forward to celebrating this special time of year.

Looking back over 2021, it is tempting to wonder where the time has gone, but on reflection, a lot has been achieved over the past twelve months. Unfortunately, Covid 19 prevented us from holding our annual Parish Council Open Day again this year, so I would like to do a brief review here instead:

Our new Parish Councillors are settling in extremely well, and have brought our average age down considerably! With their relative youth, and wide range of backgrounds and interests, they have brought new perspectives to our discussions, particularly around future developments for our youth and our response to climate change.

This year we have been able to give financial support to many sports clubs in the village, using funds from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The CIL is money paid to us under the terms of our Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), amounting to 25% of funds paid to Wiltshire Council by developers under the terms of the “Section106” agreement. In short, we get this money because we have our NDP. Projects supported include:

  • Building and roof works at the Clubhouse and contribution towards the purchase of a replacement Lawn Mower for the Senior Football Club.
  • Refurbishment of the clubhouse for the Bowls Club

These projects were all completed through the grit, determination and hard work of club members working hard to keep costs down, in the face of many challenges including the scarcity and increasing cost of materials. We would like to congratulate all of them on what they have achieved.

Other projects we have been able to support from CIL funds include

  • Electrical Refurbishments for the Bouverie Hall
  • Installation of an Outdoor Canopy at Pewsey Vale School

From our general funds we make annual donations to support Pewsey Heritage Centre, Pewsey Carnival, and the Messenger. This year we have also made one-off donations of £500 each to Julia’s House and Prospect Hospice.

We are currently 18months into our 3 year contract with IdVerde for grass cutting/litter etc; early in 2022 we will be discussing renewing that contract for 2024 onwards. We continue to learn as we go along and modify our operations as required but overall are happy with the work being done.

Inconveniently, calendar years and financial years don’t run together. At our Full Council meeting on Tuesday 10th November we discussed our plans for the next financial year (1st April 2022 to 31st March 2023). Recognising that the increasing cost of living, particularly winter fuel prices will put many households under financial pressure, Pewsey Parish Council has agreed:

  • Parish Council Precept(Rates) will be kept at 2021/2 level for 2022/3
  • There will be no increase in Allotment Fees
  • There will be no increase in rents paid by Sports Clubs 

We are able to do this through the careful management and hard work of all our Councillors and I would like to thank them for their tremendous efforts.

Over the past few months it has been wonderful to see the villages gradually coming alive again and now many events are taking place every week. It was lovely to see many of you in the Bouverie Hall on November 6th when we were treated to a Remembrance concert by Wiltshire Police Band, along with the Bluebelles and pupils from Pewsey Vale School in support of The Royal British Legion. We were joined that evening by our new Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson with his wife, and his deputy Russell Holland.  It was a memorable evening; congratulations to all those involved.

Unfortunately, we are still awaiting a replacement for PCSO Paul Whiteside so currently have only one PCSO serving our community.

Looking ahead to January 2022, we hope to be installing and unveiling two new seats in the John Cooke Memorial Garden (Market Place). One will be in memory of two past Chairmen; Wing Commander Bob Woodward, and Squadron Leader Alex Carder. The other will be in honour of the numerous volunteers who have helped us all throughout the Covid Pandemic.  As soon as the seats are delivered we will be arranging a date for a suitable ceremony, so look out for further information.

Next June marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and we will be supporting commemorations in the village. Preliminary plans are underway for a Music and Fun event on Friday June 3rd at Coopers Field, and a possible Feast Tea on Sunday 5th June.

In the meantime, may I wish everyone a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

Curly Haskell

Chairman

Pewsey Parish Council