Chairman's Report April 2003
Chairman’s Report to the Annual Parish Meeting
Birdham Parish Council
April 14th 2003
In the past year the Council has met eleven times. I would like to pay tribute to all the Councillors for the time and effort they have put in to a genuinely collaborative Council, dedicated to the best interests of the people of Birdham. During the year we have been joined by Councillor Martin Kyte. Councillor Clive Loseby had to resign from the Council because of pressure of work. We shall always be grateful for the enthusiasm that he brought to the Council, particularly in connection with the Millennium Fête. At the end of this Council we shall also be losing Councillor Philippa Woodruff and will miss her expertise in so many areas: playgrounds, the environment and the workings of local government particularly in the field of planning, to name but some. My thanks are due to all members of the Council for their attendance at meetings on behalf of the Council as well as their valuable advice in decision-making. There will not be an election for the new Parish Council on May1st but we shall have a full Council next year. We are also grateful to our paid employees, Betty Geary, Adrian Dover and John Talbot, and particularly to our Clerk, Saskia Heasman.
The dominant theme for the Council this year has again been the plans for the Village Hall. A lot of effort was put in by many people to try to get the plan for the new Village Centre off the ground but in the end we had to face the fact that there was no reasonable prospect of raising anywhere near sufficient funds. A report from a structural engineer showed that work had to be done on the roof and so we decided to repair the present hall with a loan from the Public Works Board and then to refurbish and reorder it to get as much of what we wanted from the New Centre out of the old hall. We shall continue to seek funds for the improvement and possible extension of the hall and are grateful to those who gave us advice.
The village precept on the Council Tax rose this year, to make provision for the repayments on the loan to repair the village hall. We continue to maintain a contingency fund while making provision for the Council’s legal obligations, the maintenance of the Council’s assets and the steady improvement of facilities for the residents.
To celebrate the golden jubilee of the accession of the Queen, the Council commissioned commemorative mugs for children under 11 in the village and bought a new flagpole for the village green.
The first edition of the new Parish Newletter was delivered to all homes in the Parish and we have made a start on a Birdham website and e-mail facility.
We have pressed for improvements to the roads of the village and the control of speeding traffic and produced a report for our County Councillor which we hope will see results soon. The problems of parking in Farne Close have been pursued with CDCH (now Martlet Homes) but without result so far. We have encouraged the measures taken by Birdham Primary School to control traffic and parking at peak school times and we have provided a bridge over the ditch on Birdham Straight to offer a safer route to the school.
As part of our rolling programme to update the children’s playground, new swings will be installed with a modern safety surface at the beginning of May.
We have joined with the Westlands Residents Association to seek to improve the state of the harbourside footpath and with the Alandale Road Residents Association to secure the long-term conservation of the road and adjacent land, part of which we own. We rejected an offer by Persimmon Homes of land at Pipers Mead but accepted with gratitude a promise of a gift by will of land elsewhere in the Parish.
We have continued to express doubts about the principle and the practice of setting up the South Downs National Park and the quality of the West Sussex Structure Plan for 2001 – 2016.
In general planning matters within the Parish we attempt to combine observance of the planning rules with a determination to maintain as far as possible the feeling of a rural village community. The District Council is the Planning Authority and usually agrees with our views.