Chairman's Report April 2004

Chairman's Report April 2004

Chairman's Report to the Annual Parish Meeting

April 19th 2004

In the past year the Council has met eleven times. 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. During the year we have been joined by Councillors Emma Baillieu and Gordon Churchill. We are also grateful to our paid employees, Betty Geary, Adrian Dover and John Talbot, and particularly to our Clerk, Saskia Heasman, who has also become the Clerk to the Councils at West Itchenor and Appledram.

The dominant theme for the Council this year has again been the plans for the Village Hall. We are now at the point where we have an architect, a quantity surveyor and a structural engineer forming our design team and a schedule which is intended to ensure that the work on the Hall should be finished by September 2005. We shall no doubt have to face some difficult decisions when the detailed costs are known but our aim remains to provide a flexible facility which will serve the needs of the village for the next fifty years.

The Council has taken the opportunity to acquire ownership of the village pond, upon the sale of the adjacent field by Mrs Freeman. The arrangements have also been finalised for the Council eventually to acquire another area of land in the village under the will of a resident. After considerable historical research, the Council concluded that it had no rights over verges and ditches at Allendale Road.

Nearly all members of the Council attended a training seminar in Planning, arranged by Chichester District Council, and have contributed to the determination of the Council's view on a large number of planning applications this year. There has been increasing pressure for development outside the Settlement Policy Area, which we have resisted. At the same time we have tried to encourage the economic activity of the village, especially where it might offer employment to local residents. We were pleased in this respect too that former Councillor Clive Loseby's campaign to bring broadband internet access to Birdham was successful.

A major concern for local residents has continued to be the amount of traffic on the A286 to and from Chichester. We have opposed plans to upgrade Wopham's Lane and supported the County Council's attempts to improve the traffic junctions on the A27. The footpath along Birdham Straight has been relaid and the resurfacing of the road itself is imminent. Improved surfacing for wheelchair users has been provided at the junction of Crooked Lane and Birdham Straight. We have supported the efforts of the Headmaster of Birdham C of E Primary School to tackle road safety, parking and speed awareness in the vicinity of the School.

We have discussed possible solutions to other irritations which have included litter and flyposting along the main road, dumping on grass verges, petty vandalism and dog fouling.

The village precept on the Council Tax fell this year. We continue to maintain a contingency fund while making provision for the Council's legal and financial obligations, the maintenance of the Council's assets and the steady improvement of facilities for the residents.

The Council has also played its part in attempts to draw local Parish Councils together to approach common problems on the Peninsula.