Friday, November 23, 2018

Thoughts from a Parish Council... how green is our valley?

And so, my reign of terror first term as Chair of Creeting St Peter Parish Council continues into its first winter. Or rather, as I suggested to an old colleague, I rule with a rod of rhubarb, rather than of iron.

I took part in our first village litter pick, organised by the Village Wildlife Group, which became an opportunity to swap war stories with the Chair of the Parochial Church Council, Alice. And whilst some litter was picked - there wasn’t too much, I was pleased to see - it was a useful opportunity to gain a better idea of the issues faced by small parishes in terms of finance and organisation. The Church of England does remind me a bit of the Liberal Democrats, in that it isn’t always easy to keep the show on the road, but the rewards when things go well make it feel worthwhile.

And we have a planning issue, in that the Parish’s only ‘heavy industry’ - a concrete products plant - has applied for a temporary permission to park trucks on a part of its site. The problem is that it has traditionally taken a ‘relaxed’ view of planning conditions and tended to ‘create facts on the ground’, much to the irritation of nearby residents. Light pollution from its cranes, vehicle movements and production activities outside the hours permitted, all of this causes a disturbance to people who should otherwise have a reasonable expectaion of good neighbourliness.

Council considered the application thoughtfully, with the benefit of some wise advise from our District Councillor. We clearly can’t stop them from operating altogether, and some of our concerns are a matter for the County Highways Team, but we do feel that the District Council can, and should, do more in terms of enforcement of the planning conditions they themselves set.

The rest of the business ran with enviable smoothness, and we were done and dusted in just about an hour. You might fault aspects of my work as Chair, but by God do we get through the business efficiently.

I enjoy Parish Council. It isn’t big, or particularly innovative, or exciting, but my colleagues and I, ably supported by Jennie, our Clerk, have made some small, but positive changes, and we are staunch guardians of our village infrastructure. We watch over footpaths, we plan for the future, we engage with the world around us. It is rather satisfying, and the sense of putting something back into our community is important to us.

We’ve got a draft budget to dwell upon over the next two months, and with our newly trained Clerk, there are some organisational things to do that would be helpful. That probably means that I need to take some time off to clear my head... 

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