The Chair's Annual Report
Published: 09 June 2021
Alderbury Parish Council
Chair’s Annual Report
First of all I would like to take a look back over the last 12 months and there is no doubt, 2020 was a strange year for everyone as we faced up to the horrible COVID-19 Pandemic.
- We had to close our play areas and switch to online meetings, but thankfully the work of the Council continued without any major issues
- We said a very sad farewell to our Parish Clerk Jo Kyles in the Spring of last year due to the tragic death of her son, Woody. We were lucky to enlist the services of Catherine Purves to clerk for us until we were able to appoint a new Clerk. We were delighted to welcome Steve Milton as our new Clerk in October. Steve brings with him a wealth of knowledge having joined us from Wilton Town Council and before that he had worked for Wiltshire Council as head of community services. My thanks must go to Cllr John Fuller who undertook to look after all the finances of the Parish Council during the vacancy, and liaised with Steve to enable a smooth takeover of affairs.
- I am delighted to say that the parish council is now full, with all 11 sitting councillors returned at the elections this month. We lost Maz Clarke in September due to pressure of work, but were pleased to co-opt and welcome Mike Huntley to his first meeting in January.
- The Village Hall project was delivered on time and on budget – our thanks to the building contractors Greendale, who have done a wonderful job. My thanks also to Cllr John Fuller who led the project on behalf of the Council. Good job John! Although not officially open yet we were able to use the main hall for the elections this month. I am sure that many of you would have been impressed by the new look and enlarged main hall.
- Those of you who keep a beady eye on the Council will have seen the new website that was launched in April. It is a big improvement on the previous version and has much more information. If there is anything you think we should include do please contact the Clerk.
- You may have noticed the new speed indicator sign on Southampton Road. Our thanks to Wiltshire Council for a grant that helped fund that. It is being tested at the moment but will be live in a couple of weeks. We will be siting it at one if not two other sites in the village as it has more impact that way. Drivers become complacent if it is left for long periods in one place so it loses its effectiveness. The sign will be a great help for our dedicated speedwatch volunteers. We get regular complaints about speeding in the village, so the battle goes on.
- The Council has been involved in two major planning applications over the last 12 months. The development behind Wagtails on Southampton Road and the new estate of 50 houses on the old Alderbury Football Club pitches at Junction Road. We objected to both schemes and Wiltshire Council backed us by refusing the plans. The development at the football field was allowed at appeal but we continue to fight the details that still need permission. The development behind Wagtails is currently at appeal and we have made our representations opposing the scheme in the strongest possible terms. We hope the Inspector will agree that the clearance of the old woodland ahead of any permission was wholly inappropriate. Fingers crossed.
- This year the Christmas tree in Waleran Close, kindly donated by David Hogan, was better than ever and was a lovely centrepiece for the village. Thanks go to Marcus Light for erecting it and Andy Coles for linking up the electrics. My personal thanks go to Cllr Mernagh and family in their bubble who decorated it with the lights. Unfortunately, due to the Covid restrictions,and social distancing, we were not able to help. Sadly, our plans for a switch-on event had to be cancelled because of COVID but we received lots of lovely messages from residents. Hopefully, this year we can all come together for a mince pie, mulled wine and a good old sing-song.
- As ever, the Council continues to deal with a wide range of village maintenance issues, from liaising with the parish steward, to following up the installation or repair of road signs, potholes, hedges and drains and gullies with Wiltshire Council and the Longford Estate.
And looking forwards, we have another busy year ahead.
- As you have heard tonight, we will be working with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the Village. Already, we have a growing band of volunteers and we will be launching a new Facebook page to keep everyone up to speed with what is happening.
- We will be completely renovating the old garage on the Recreation Ground – it has certainly seen better days and is now crying out for a facelift. I will be delighted when it is done as it will free up my garage which is full of Parish Council paraphernalia.
- We will be funding clearance work along the Southampton Road pavements where the banks have encroached. They are starting to get quite dangerous, particularly at the Salisbury end of the village.
- Luckily, we seem to have escaped the worst of the Winter weather without any major mishap. We stand prepared for emergencies and we will be arranging some drain clearance work where needed to top up the services provided by Wiltshire Council.
- You may have seen on the news that we have been frustrated in our ongoing battle against litter in the village. Public Health England are still insisting that litter is not collected by volunteers because of the Novichok incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury. We understand the caution, it was a terrible event, but we believe that the risk is minimal here in Alderbury and we are itching to get the gardening gloves on and get the litter bagged and binned.
- We will be reviewing our grass cutting, grounds maintenance and litter bin contracts later this year. Our contractors have been doing a sterling job and we are keen to maintain the high standards everyone expects.
- And of course, we will be keeping an eye on planning applications. We want to preserve the ancient woodland setting of the village and we will continue to battle against any loss of trees. But, now at least with the Wildlife project, we will be planting a whole lot more.
Thank you all for listening, you can read more on our website, on our Facebook and Twitter pages and of course in our monthly update in the Fountain.